I’ve been hearing lots of chatter lately about people wondering whether they are where they should be. In relationships, an activity, a possible addiction, with kids (mine’s 15…oy vey), at our school or post, in our industry.
‘I’m done. I’m over it. I can’t do this anymore. Why am I here?’
It doesn’t mater what profession you are in, there are always signs of weary souls wandering around. But in the education profession, we walk a particular line with questions of moving on. We joke at work that it’s like an abusive relationship. We start the year fresh, excited, we get worn down, we are asked of more that we can give, we go unseen, we say we’re done. Then, right before we turn in our papers- TA DA! -we get a break (Spring, Summer, Winter? No difference at all). And in that sweet, sweet freedom, we say…’it’s not so bad.’ Ha! And the cycle continues year after year until we turn around and can’t believe we are getting another five-year paper weight.
It’s like when you go to Target and fill your basket impulsively with a million ridiculous kitchen gadgets, DVDs you’ll never watch, 70 ridiculous lay tiny towels, and adorable stationary sets. You feel so good…until you get to the line and realize you work for the public school system and can’t afford any of that Target magicalness and empty it all but the peanut butter and Cheerios. But the feeling of pretending for a little bit is enough to hold you over. For 2 hours (albeit wasted), you were all 5 (I think) of the Kardashian sisters.
So I started thinking about what factors could be considered when trying to decide if it’s time to move on. I found three, mainly based on my BFF and main man, Viktor Frankl and his Existentialism. If you haven’t read Man’s Search for Meaning, throw your worthless electronic down and run -don’t walk- to a book store near you and get it. Well, unless you are into digital reading, then don’t throw your electronic down, dummy. I’m sorry, that was mean.
Anywho, I think these three things are the most important to consider when trying to decide if it’s time to move on. OK, here goes:
1. Letting go of the past- Have you tried, to the best of your ability, to let go of the past? This includes letting go of things you wish were true (even the age-old). Hanging on to what should or could be only gets us stuck, and keeps us from being able to view our prospects with clarity. You’ve got to let go of this and catalogue what is so that you know what the reality of the situation is.
2. Honest perspective- Have you really truly taken in other perspectives? Like, reeeallllllyyyyy tried. This means understanding the bigger picture, our role in the larger system, and getting clarity on your situation in context of what other people are going through. I know, I know, this seems in contradiction to the first consideration, but I don’t mean stopping on what could be, but understanding our situation in a larger manner to ensure we have not simply lost focus of a world in which we are the center staple.
3. Effort toward contentment- Have you truly tried to find meaning in your situation? This one is a big nod to my Vik (we’re cool like that). A la #2, Frankl points out that Holocaust survivors, POWs, terminally ill, etc. report being able to find meaning in the moment. They can still appreciate something, and feel a meaningful existence by something. This is not to shame goal-seeky people though guys. I mean, a little fire goes a long way… and under the tush pushes us to do some amazing stuff. But this is more like a gut check. Have you truly put effort into finding contentment and holding tight to it? The trick is that you should feel contentment and meaning that is not based on how you feel, but rather your contentment in being a bystander to great things and other people as well.
So here’s the deal. I feel like these are really important to try, BUT they are not the end of the road. Sometimes we do everything we can (these three things included) and still cannot find happiness. It’s not that we’re not trying hard enough, maybe it’s that whatever situation you’re in has run its course. And it’s time to move on. Like, these make up the timeless 90’s movie’s holy grail. If they don’t work, maybe you’ve really exhausted your time and effort, and/or you are STUCK (and probably bitter) and you’ll get your full mojo back after moving on. Of course, if someone keeps moving around and still feels pooty, there might be some other things to contend with- patterns are super revealing.