The End of the Road?: How to know when to walk away

This poster hangs in my home office and serves as a constant reminder that each moment in my life is precious. And because each moment is precious, I try my best to only do the things that bring satisfaction, joy, and add to the fullness of my life. To do anything less, is to sell my self short.

At some point, each one of us thinks about walking away from something. Maybe a job. A partner. A friend. Maybe even an opportunity or a way of life. And we struggle with the decision because it’s hard to know if the benefits outweigh all of the problems and frustrations that make us want to leave in the first place. And sometimes, if we are really honest with ourselves, we know that the only thing that keeps us in situations that we’ve grown tired of is the fear of change and the unknown. But the truth is that, you will have to walk away from some things eventually because if you are committed to your growth and evolution, you will undoubtedly outgrow situations and people. Things that once felt good, will no longer serve your needs in the way they used to. And sometimes we cling so tightly to the idea of something that we deny the reality of what’s right in front of us staring us in the face. 0d8f323adb048a3365e216d4b5376994 Knowing when to leave is never easy, but this is what I want to you to know: Getting the life you want takes effort and attention.  You must be dedicated to making that life happen and not sit idly by or stew in frustration when things happen in your life.  In other words, no more blaming your unhappiness on bad bosses, or bad relationships, or bad friendships that go on for years and years. Instead, work on getting the friends, the partner and employment that you want. Here’s what to do when you’re not sure whether you should walk away:

1. Think about the situation honestly. Make the proverbial list of pros and cons. And ask yourself some tough questions:

  • What do I want to get out of this situation? (e.g. affection, money, sex, adventure, comfort, skill, challenge, love, etc.)
  • What am I ACTUALLY getting out of this situation? (e.g. companionship, frustration, anger, sex, money, etc.)
  • What am I investing into this/what is this situation costing me? (e.g. time, love, brain power, energy, money, sanity, self-esteem,etc.)
  • What will happen if I keep investing these things into this situation?
  • What will happen if I stay? (best and worst case scenarios)
  • What will happen if I leave? (best and worst case scenarios)

This list gets you started. There are other important questions that you might ask yourself that are specific to your situation. Maybe it will take you a few days to think all of this through. But you owe it to yourself to be honest and look at the situation as it is head-on. You are exchanging your life for this situation. Is it worth it? Only you can decide.  And remember to make a plan, regardless of your decision. If you decide to stay, what plan can you implement to try to make the situation better for you. And if you decide to leave, what do you need to get in order before you do so? Taking ownership of your life means you are responsible for thinking all of this through.

2. Do you have any evidence that things can change for the better? Sometimes things really do get better. Many years ago, I worked as a social worker on the trauma unit at a hospital and it was absolutely unbearable for me. I did not like the work I was doing, it was super stressful and I honestly wasn’t well suited for the position. Everyday I left that job dreading walking back in the next morning. When I was away from the job, I constantly thought about it. I felt stuck. I wanted to “stick it out and prove myself” but everyday I was miserable and did not think that I would prevail. But you know what happened? It got better. One of my coworkers resigned and I immediately asked to be switched to her unit–the mother/baby unit. And I absolutely LOVED that work and was well suited to that position. The position had its own stressors and challenges, but the difference was that I was good at it and each challenge seemed like an opportunity to learn more and get even better at my job. What a difference a few months made. The point is that things did get better eventually. Exponentially better. And if you had asked me just a month before they did, I probably would not have seen the possibility.  Somebody had to leave and my job description completely changed for my job situation to be better. And both of those things were altogether out of my control. So I am asking you, do you have any evidence that the situation you are considering walking away from will get better?  What would have to happen for things to get better? Do you have any control of those things? Is the perpetual hope that things will get better enough for you to stay? Why or why not?

3. Do your best right now Before you walk away from anything, ask yourself if you have honestly given it your best try.  If it’s a relationship, for example, you might ask yourself whether you have openly and honestly communicated your needs to your partner.  Are you doing everything you can to meet your partner’s needs? You might try couple’s counseling, if your partner is willing. If it’s a job, you might ask yourself whether you are taking responsibility for your job performance and are seeking all available assistance and resources. In all situations, you want to know that you have given it your best effort and explored every possible option to make it work. This is important for two reasons. First, maybe you just have to put in some elbow grease to get all that you need and want from the situation. Perhaps you will try something that you hadn’t before and that’s the thing that ends up making all the difference. And second, if you walk away and haven’t explored all the possibilities, you might end up looking back with regret and wondering if you had “only tried ….” perhaps things would have been different. Once you can honestly say that you have given a situation your best and done all that was in your power to make it work, you can walk away with the peace of mind knowing that it just wasn’t meant to be. You can close the door and move on. “Doing you best” in a situation can also be kind of tricky, especially if you find the same patterns constantly repeating over and over. If you find yourself walking away from situations only to find that the next situation yields the exact same results, perhaps some further introspection is warranted.  Remember that your reality is  result of both things within and without of your control. But if certain patterns constantly create themselves in your life, perhaps you have more control over them than you think you do. And perhaps it’s time for you to talk to someone  who can help provide some insight into why the same patterns occur in your life. This is your responsibility too.  It’s up to you to figure this is out.

Now as always, I’d like to hear from you. In the comments below, I would love to hear about times when you’ve decided to walk away from something. How’d you know it was time? And if you’re not already on our mailing list, don’t forget to sign up!

Til next time

What Beyonce Taught Me About Rejection

This is her performing at Stevie Wonder's tribute earlier this year. I was screaming so loud and dancing so hard, I know my neighbors thought I was crazy!
Queen Bey herself performing at Stevie Wonder’s tribute earlier this year. I was screaming so loud and dancing so hard, I know my neighbors thought I was crazy!

Sooo…. Everyone who knows me knows how much I loves me some Beyonce. Obviously she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world, and can sing her head off.  But I think I love  her so much because she’s so inspiring. I mean her work ethic is more than out of this world. I mean who can secretly record an album, secretly produce a short film for EVERY song on said album, and with no promotion or marketing release said album overnight and  then have that album debut at #1 and sell almost a million copies in 3 days? Beyonce. That’s who.  And its been amazing to watch her career and personal life evolve and grow over the past 20 years.

I am an official card carrying member of the Beyhive, honey! And I’m not ashamed of it.

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I think Beyonce is truly at her best in the “The Love on Top” video. I love EVERYTHING about it.  I love the song, which is so upbeat and fun and catchy and shows off her vocal skills.  It has an old school feel, which I love. I love the choreographed dancing, which will make me break an ankle, if I don’t acknowledge my limits. I love the unexpected wardrobe changes. I love the homage to New Edition, and the Temptations and other famous R&B male groups. I love the simple beauty of the setting and the beginning of the video. And I love how she ends the video by calling “cut” and walking off the set like a boss! And did I mention she was PREGNANT doing all those moves?  Whenever I’m in a sad or bad mood, this video improves my mood almost IMMEDIATELY. Its part of my coping toolkit. Check it out below if you’ve never seen it:

But as fabulous as I think Beyonce is, I’m sure she just doesn’t “do” it for some of you reading this. In fact, I didn’t like her all that much about 15 years ago. It took me awhile to get on the Beyonce bandwagon, but once I did there was no looking back!

If, for example, you watch this same video that I am head over heels crazy for on Youtube, you will find that of 181,153,005 people who watched it, “only” 641,870 (including me!) took the time to actually “like” it and an astounding (to me) 24,285 expressly disliked it.

Let me repeat that. 24,285 people disliked the same video that I think is better than sliced bread. What?? Are these people blind? Do that not get Queen Bey’s excellence??

In short. The answer is no. This video and song are simply not for them. End of story. Does Beyonce stop being her fabulous self, because there are thousands (and probably millions) of people out there who don’t like her? Does she stop being beautiful? Does she stop recording? Does she stop being the highest paid female artist of all time? Does she stop being the highest paid Black artist of all time? Does she lose any of her magnificence?

NO.

Her brilliance and people’s rejection of her brilliance can and do exist in the same world at the same moment. This was a huge revelation to me. Just because people dislike or reject something, doesn’t mean that it loses inherent value. It’s simply not for them. They value something different.

Being rejected and disliked is not fun. And we’ve all been there.  We’ve all been rejected in some form, whether by a job, or a lover, or a friend and it hurts like hell. We agonize over what we might have done wrong. We obsess over it and think that there is something fundamentally wrong with us, or that we are unlovable. Its interesting because we can accept when someone dislikes food that we love. We can easily understand when someone says they don’t like the sushi or oxtail stew we offer them, because they do not like the taste. We still go on loving it because we still enjoy the taste. We don’t question its tastiness.  But when someone says they don’t like us, we take that very personally and it makes us question ourselves.

Well, Lovebug, I think Beyonce- with her infinite fierceness- can teach us something about rejection. Here goes:

1. It’s not about you

dont_take_anything_personallyI think Don Miguel Ruiz says it best in his book The Four Agreements. When people don’t like you it’s because of what they value and their reality. And that’s ok. It does not mean that you are defective. Or that you are wrong. It simply means that you are not their cup of tea. Like the 24,000 people who disliked the video. The video is still fabulous. Remember that more than 640,000 did like that same video. And the same is true for you. There will always be people who will dislike and reject you. But there will always be people who like you too.

2. Build your own Beyhive

Beyonce has a strong following of supporters, that she lovingly calls her Beyhive.  And if people say negative things about Beyonce… Honey, watch out! Cuz the Beyhive is coming after you!! They will make you sorry you ever uttered a bad word about their queen.

beyhive
Poor Garcelle Beauvais! She had to retract her statement about Beyonce after the Beyhive came after her. The Beyhive is always ready to protect their queen.

Well, we all need support. And we all need people who see our value and never make us question our worth. We all need people who back us up and can point out our wonderful qualities, even when we don’t see them. This is how we have the courage to continue being ourselves and finding opportunities to grow after a rejection. Our support team helps us process defeat or rejection, helps us dust ourselves off, and provide us with the support to live our lives. So get busy building your support team, if you don’t already have one! You can’t do it alone. And even if you could, it wouldn’t be as fun.

3. Be You Anyway!

So Beyonce got the word “bootylicious” added to Webster’s dictionary 10 years ago. She is probably the first mainstream crossover success that sang about having a full and curvy body. She started a trend at a time when mainstream only saw beauty in thin body types.

Also, the current entertainment world is characterized by its “all access” look into celebrity lives. Nowadays, everybody has a reality show or constant twitter feed filled with all their personal business. Not Beyonce. It took her forever to even join twitter and she finally did about 6 years ago. In those 6 years she has tweeted out a whopping 8 tweets, all of which are about humanitarianism and activist causes not her personal life. Beyonce also  kept her relationship with her boyfriend/husband private for many many years before she publicly said anything about their relationship. Privacy is kind of unheard of in the entertainment world where everybody wants to promote themselves.

Basically she does what feels comfortable to her. And you should too.  Rejection is much easier to accept when you know that you are being true to yourself. Because then you will know that the outcome will have always been the same.

4. Don’t let other people’s opinion of you matter so much

And this even goes for good things people say and feel about you, as well as bad things, because when you…

0e17fe2fccd85665b57060f14fd95f2cAnd as Ms. Beyonce says herself:

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I couldn’t have said it better myself, Bey!

You must know that you are beautiful and wonderful and special just as you are right now, regardless of what other people think. And if knowing this is a struggle for you, seek out people (like me!) who can help you work through the issues that keep you from believing you are fabulous you are.

So as always, I’d love to hear from you. You have more tips on how to handle and process rejection? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Or it you’d just like to talk about why you think Beyonce is fabulous too, you can leave a comment about that as well.

I’ll leave you with this…

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Drops mic…

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Happy Mother’s Day

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This is my favorite pic of my mom.

This is a short post. I just want to wish everyone a very happy Mother’s Day! I’m sending this message out to everyone, even those of us who are not mothers, because today is a chance for all of us to think about the wonderful impact that mothers have on our lives. Mothers are everywhere and we love them! Even the non human ones.

I saw this mom and her chicks randomly on 67th and Cottage Grove yesterday!
I saw this beautiful mama and her chicks randomly strolling down 71st and Cottage Grove yesterday.  She stopped traffic!

As most of you know, this is my first Mother’s Day after my mom passed last summer.  And it’s really hard. But I’ll get through it by focusing on how much her life has impacted mine and how appreciative I am that I’m here today because of her.  Also, my brother sent me the most adorable pics of my mother’s garden in her back yard. My mother’s garden was her pride and joy and its thriving even after she’s gone. Her influence is still visible and inspiring. What more could a daughter ask for?

So I’m encouraging everyone to celebrate your mama today. Whether she’s no longer with us, whether you’re sitting with her right now, or whether you’re not speaking to her, remember that you are here because of her.  And because of that simple fact alone, the world is better place because of her.

If you’re up to it, please leave a comment below sharing your thoughts about Mother’s Day.

My beautiful little niece walking around my mom's garden.
My beautiful little niece walking around my mom’s garden.
My mama would be so proud!
My mama would be so proud!