Running Away vs. Seizing the Day

“You’re just running away from your life.” “You’re afraid.” “You’re avoiding a decision.” How many times have I heard these words? How many times have they forced me to stop and stumble? Are they true? Am I running away? What does that even mean?

To back up, I don’t think these words are said in spite or ill-spirit. They are said by friends and family who care for me and perhaps (likely) see something I don’t. But to be honest with you, I don’t know that this statement is totally true. Can’t it be that we are running towards something and not away?

There’s a difference.

Of course, there are situations we as humans run from: A relationship that seems too complicated, a dead-end job, a housing situation you crinkle your nose at, a family problem that mentally drains you… These are reasons to choose something else, right? But what if you aren’t leaving any of that baggage behind? Are you still running?

But I get the claim.

A friend who works a 9-5 job and commutes an hour both ways isn’t going to necessarily give me the best advice for myself. How can they? Their own goals, destinations, and circumstances cloud their opinions. That is so normal and I don’t hate any part of that truth. I appreciate the comment- it makes me question the where, why, and how. It forces me to get deep and realize that the choices I make shouldn’t be due to fear or circumstance or peer-pressure. They should be due to truth, inspiration, and desire.

Chasing things doesn’t mean you’re running.

Example: Hello, my name is Ally and I have been working hard and non-stop since I graduated college. I really want to make a change in my life- a drastic one. I want to take that leap, but every time I let myself dream I talk myself back into a corner of how irresponsible, self-centered, and detrimental it would be to my career. If I take time off, or switch companies, it will probably hurt my chances of future promotion or I’ll end up with a lesser paying job. Ally’s friends don’t have Ally’s dream, so when she discusses it with them, they ask the hard questions and wonder why she would give up her current life for all that risk.

The scales have tipped. Of course from an analytical stand-point Ally’s dream doesn’t make any sense. But do we only allow ourselves to come from an analytical side of things? Don’t we also want to consider the emotions, the desires, the goals? The truth is, society and their standards rarely allow for the other side to present its argument. We are taught from a young age to get a good education, get a good job, and get a good retirement plan. Sometimes those align with that deep rooted goal (I call it a dream) inside you. Sometimes they don’t.

Don’t read me wrong- I am in no way hating on those that choose that path. That’s an amazing path to take if it brings you satisfaction and contentment. But if your cubicle holds you captive and you’re scratching at the walls, then why is the idea of leaving that cubicle deemed as an act of ‘running away’?

Making a decision in pursuit of happiness, to me, isn’t running. It’s embracing a new possibility that comes with risks.

I’ve talked to a lot of people. I’ve researched the hell out of the internet, and spent countless hours trying to put the puzzle pieces of my life into a semblance of a picture. Deciding to follow a path that is not accepted by normal societal standards is frightening, and if you truly want it, exhilarating. I can think of a lot of people with regrets for not making those decisions (slowly raises hand) and quite a few who made hard choices and are in love with their lives.

At some point you have to decide for yourself.

A long time ago I decided I didn’t want to be back in a cubicle, at least for right now. This decision has led me to hard choices, less income, isolation, and a constant struggle to remind people that even though I am not at a corporate office, I am still employed. (It has also brought freedom, joy of decisions, travel opportunities, and healthy lunches into my life, just to balance out the negative.) But I was doing something outside of the norm. I struggled with that. I still do.

Doing something even just slightly not by the book has its own heaviness to it. You have to explain. Justify. But making a choice that better fits your future goals or ideas isn’t running away. It’s learning…it’s growing. It’s life.