Change is freaking terrifying.
For me, it’s even worse than having a bunch of big, hairy, black spiders crawling all over me. That’s one of my biggest fears, by the way. I absolutely hate spiders, and jump and scream like a woman possessed even at the sight of a tiny one.
That’s why, for decades, I carefully avoided change like the plague (or said bunch of big, hairy spiders). Even though I was completely, totally, utterly miserable.
I knew that I never belonged in tiny old Senigallia. Heck, I didn’t belong in the whole of Italy. I knew that I was wasting the best years of my life doing stuff that didn’t excite me, with people who showed their “friendship” and “love” by criticising rather than supporting me, and watching others live the life I wanted. The life I didn’t have the guts to live.
Until it all became too much. Something had snapped inside me, and I realised it was finally time to make that big, utterly terrifying change. Here are the signs that (finally!) led me to that realization and prompted me to take action:
1. You’ve forgotten you have choices
We human beings get easily used to anything. Crappy jobs, abusive relationships, toxic friendships… After a while, they become so familiar, they feel normal. We start to believe that’s how our lives will always be.
I used to think so too. I had this crazy dream of moving to the big city (London, baby!) to make a career out of writing. But, I thought, there was no way I could make that happen. I was just a simple, naïve, little girl from Senigallia. Girls like me spend their entire lives in their small villages, get married, and juggle a poorly-paid job with a growing family. They don’t go out and chase their dreams.
So, for years, I stayed in my little village. And in a relationship that had run its course long ago. Without a job that made me want to get up in the morning and made me feel like I was making a difference, albeit small, in the world.
It was familiar. It was safe. It was stifling. And it was sucking all the life out of my soul. I believe it was one of the main factors that led me into depression. What’s familiar and safe can literally kill you. So slowly, you don’t even realise it.
That realization helped me change my perspective and realise that we don’t have to stay in the same situation, do the same things, and live in the same drama just because it’s familiar. We have choices. Make those that nourish your soul, not destroy it.
2. You’ve become a victim
Whenever something bad happened, I used to wonder, “why me?”. I thought I was unlucky. A victim of circumstances. Was unemployed? There were no jobs in this crappy economy. Argued with my sister? She was unreasonable. Got a bad grade at school? The teacher was hard to please.
There was always someone or something else to blame for my failures and disappointments. They were the mean ones that had to change, not me.
I was wrong. I’m not powerless. And neither are you. It’s this victim mentality that makes us feel powerless. When we stop pointing fingers, and start wondering, “what can I do to improve this situation?”, our perspective shifts.
We realise we could have studied harder, or are approaching job search in the completely wrong way. Only then, we’re ready to make a change. For the better.
3. You’re easily irritated
Life is full of minor irritations. When we’re happy and satisfied, we let them roll off our backs. But, when there’s something wrong, they bother us big time. Everything gets on our nerves, and we have no patience anymore to deal with what we now perceive to be major problems.
This attitude ruins everyone’s lives. Your unhappiness and irritation make everyone else unhappy and irritated too. It doesn’t have to be this way. This unhealthy attitude is a sign that something needs to change. Figure out what it is, take control of it, and fix it.
If that’s too hard, start by changing the way you respond to these little annoyances. Rather than get automatically irritated, take a deep breathe, and release it. You’ll feel much happier and relaxed, and ready to make even more important changes in your life.
4. You’re going in the wrong direction
Sometimes, the world is telling you you’re doing amazing, but you just don’t feel it. Everyone envies your well-paid, safe job, but waking up in the morning to go to the office feels like a prison sentence to you. Your parents are proud you’ve decided to study law and are happily forking out the money for your tuition, but you’d much rather be an artist instead.
You know you’re on the wrong path, but can’t see any forks on the road. Just get off it. It sucks to disappoint people, but if your path is leading in the opposite direction of your dream, it’ll lead to a life full of unhappiness and bitterness.
You don’t deserve that. Find the guts to change the course of your life and, after the initial disappointment, your loved ones will realise you’ve made the right choice, too. They want you to be happy and fulfilled, too.
5. You spend more time daydreaming than in the present
As a writer and a creative, I love daydreaming, and thinking about different scenarios and outcomes. But, when I was stuck in a rut, I used to do it literally all day long. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even notice people talking to me, so absorbed was I in my dreams.
They all involved me writing, living in the city, and making enough money to splurge on a few little luxuries. I’m still working on that last part, but the first two dreams have become a reality. When you’re daydreaming too much about one thing, it’s a sure sign you need to pursue it.
Are you ready to make a change now?