Knowing When to Let Go

I come from a long line of people who are afraid to or don’t otherwise know how to let things go. I’m talking material things, feelings, relationships, that ratty old sweatshirt that belonged to Eddie n’ them back in the day. You know, the kind of people who think that cutting people off because of old grudges is productive.

I grew up with the idea that possessions can have value the same way that people can. Let me explain. My Grandmother was a pack-rat–she was a lightweight hoarder. She had so much STUFF. Picture this: a 150 year old victorian duplex with ten rooms on either side filled with as much victorian furniture she could find. She was a collector of antiques and spent a lot of her spare time yard-saling or perusing through the isles of the local thrift shop. Then there were those family heirlooms that she refused to get rid of because cousin so-and-so got it from great-great uncle what’s-his-name. When we moved from our big house to a smaller house in the midwest, we had to downsize and it broke my Grandmother’s heart to see the things she kept close to her for comfort disappear.

As a kid, I came to understand that family was important. Those big dinners, sleepovers, and bike rides meant something. They meant that we were bonded. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time. I think that these are some of the reasons why I have struggled with the divided band of relatives I have today. When I was younger, I was taught that “blood is thicker than water.” But as my experiences have changed and my view of the world has transformed, I believe that loyalty and honor make you a family, blood just makes you related. But that’s another conversation for a different time.

Like my Grandmother, I have the habit of holding onto material possessions that I connect with positive memories or emotions. I have allowed myself to become complacent in relationships that were not good for me. I stayed at jobs I couldn’t stand because it was convenient for whatever reason and I was comfortable with that. I have lived the majority of my life afraid to let go. Of things, possessions, relationships, etc.

I was bullied a lot as a kid and I can only think of a few friends. More often than not, whenever I would develop an attachment to these friends, someone else came along to “steal them away from me.” I didn’t like sharing my time with other kids. Eventually, my friends thought I was annoying, creepy, or just “not cool” enough to be associated with. So I was left alone and bullied. I would write notes to my former friends begging them to be my friend again. It never worked. And I looked like a loser begging for people to talk to me.

As I’ve grown up, I have learned that nothing changes if you’re comfortable. Everything happens for a reason. There is a lesson in every struggle. Somewhere between my adolescence and into my adulthood I have figured out that it’s okay to let go. I have purposefully walked away from the people, places, and things that were not beneficial to my journey to happiness. I had to let go of the thing I kept close to me as a security blanket. Letting go was difficult, but boy has it been worth it.

I made a goal for myself that 2017 would be my year. Mind you, I say this every year and nothing has ever changed. But this time, I made changes and accepted my struggles for what they are. I let my past family issues go and was able to gain some sort of closure. I moved out of an uncomfortable living situation and into a new apartment. Most importantly, I got a new job.

I had been at this particular agency for 5 years and hadn’t had a raise in 3 years. I was looked over for promotions. I wasn’t being paid for the amount of work I put in each day. I never felt supported by my peers or my superiors. I stayed for so long because the job and location was convenient and familiar. But I was killing myself for nothing. It felt like there was no one there that believed in me, my vision, or anything I had to say. I got uncomfortable enough in my predictable world at this agency that I knew it was time for me to go. So I applied for other jobs and I left. Would you believe that my former supervisor never said goodbye or good luck? I was there for 5 years. Apparently, it didn’t matter.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining–because I am not. I just want to point out that the people, situations, or things that we think are valuable to us may not reciprocate those feelings. But letting go teaches us to put one foot in front of the other. It teaches us that we are stronger than we know. Letting go has been liberating for me. In retrospect, I was terrified of letting go because I am comfortable with familiarity. Not anymore.

I want to live my life having taken risks. I don’t want to be afraid of change. I want to experience something new everyday. I know it’s hard, but sometimes you just have to let it go. But, you have to know when to let go. When it isn’t helping you grow in a positive way it’s time to walk away. If the passion is gone and you aren’t challenged properly, let it go.

Think about it: do soldiers hold onto grenades after pulling the pin? No. They let it go because it is detrimental to their well-being to hold on. So let go. Live your life. Be you unapologetically, and most of all, BE HAPPY.