The BIG 4-0. In my head, I had planned a million different celebrations. This wasn’t just another birthday. It couldn’t be just another party.
Like my dear friend, Ernie, from Sesame Street, my imagination ran wild. I could do a glammed up photo shoot with a sexy photographer (snicker). I could immerse myself in a village on the other side of the world where I’d have to use my wits to get around because I don’t know the language and culture. I could pierce something that would make my mother blush. I could be uncharacteristically daredevil-ish and jump off the edge of one of nature’s tamer rock formations…
Of all my ideas, one word persistently leapt out at me—Jump!
Deep down, I knew what “Jump!” meant. I’d known for a long time. There was only one way to mark this milestone birthday.
I’d been ploughing through the 9 to 5 for almost twenty years. Initially, I enjoyed the work. (You know you enjoy your job when you voluntarily work on Saturdays without requesting compensation for overtime and in spite of the fact that you have a really hot boyfriend you can’t stop touching.) And then, the thrill and impetus were gone.
My desire to leave started out as a silent scream. As my sensible brain pondered the ever-growing list of responsibilities that plagues those of us who aren’t wealthy socialites or heirs to corporate empires, I held on. I was holding on with one weak, tired hand, but I held on. However, the fatigue soon enveloped each cell in my body and that’s when the silent scream found its voice.
The minute I began vocalising my unhappiness, inspiration flooded me. YouTube videos, blog posts, documentaries and biographical films, Pinterest quotes, stories, conversations with my friends, family, even strangers. Suddenly, the reasons not to, which had loomed over me from the lofty heights of fear and uncertainty, were dwarfed by the knowledge that it would be okay. I jumped.
I had no definitive career plans beyond submitting my resignation letter. As someone who has lived with notebooks full of schedules and timelines for achievements and goals, not knowing what comes next has not been easy to accept. I’m in a haze—a haze of possibility and opportunity. Nothing concrete has emerged from the mist but it’s early days yet. In the meantime, I’ve found myself tapping into dormant talents, experimenting in areas that I would have previously pooh-poohed. My days are full of learning—learning about me.
Why don’t we jump when we should?
Over the last year I’ve had too many conversations with people who are stuck in uneasy, uncomfortable, suffocating lives. Most recognise that this is no way to live but they’ve resigned themselves to believing that are no other options. Some out of fear, some out of laziness. Others are waiting. On what? Few have been able to articulate their anticipated catalysts.
What dreams do you consistently cast aside on account of life’s never-ending parade of bills? What makes your soul sing? Why is your cat the only living creature that knows your true dreams? Why are you losing sleep and brain cells over a degree you never wanted to pursue? When are you going to drop those so-called friends? Why are you still in that toxic relationship? Why do you allow your family to shatter your peace?
Do what your spirit is urging you to do. You already know what must be done.
When you decide to jump, expect negativity. Some people genuinely mean well but their advice is tainted by their own fears and failures. Others may thinly veil their jealousy at your pending escape with cryptic concern. Don’t chew off your fingernails in despair. Doubt is crippling and debilitating and you don’t need those feelings when you finally decide to do what’s right for you. Switch off the negativity at its source and move on. Pay attention only to those people who motivate and encourage you. Their kind words, recalled in a moment of subsequent panic, will reassure you. I can’t promise that everything will be unicorns and rainbows after that. Nobody can make that promise. For me, the peace that followed has far outweighed life’s habitual snags.
We are not guaranteed the gifts of someday, one day, and soon. Someday, one day, and soon may never come. What are you waiting for?
P.S. The word “jump” immediately propels me to sing The Pointer Sisters’ Jump (For My Love). As a child, I jumped all over the living room to this song. It was one of a handful of videos the lone TV station played over and over. Girls Aloud’s version was pretty good too (Love Actually, anyone?). Enjoy!