Balance Doubt and Obligation 

You said it yourself that you’re courageous, is it courageous to quit?

The words from my therapist echoed through me awakening several different emotions. Curiosity, doubt, defense, and anger. Was I quitting or was I acknowledging a limit? Maybe the two are varying sides of one coin. You are the one who has to live with the consequence. I reminded myself, remembering how far I fell after pushing myself through my dissertation process. Everything in me was screaming for the emergency break, why was I allowing myself to consider being complicit in my own misery? 

There is a commonly agreed upon truth that life is hard and that we do not deserve to be happy. It sounds bleak when you say it out loud but I’ve found it to be true in my experience. People expect to be sad, to be frustrated, to struggle and to accept that life has bumps that will knock you down. I don’t entirely believe that. I believe that when something is hard, the universe is giving you a sign, an opportunity. Because ultimately life should be easy and should flow freely and smoothly. Not that there will not be bumps, but that you don’t fight your way through, you yield your way through. Nothing has taught me this more than having an anxiety disorder. You cannot barrel your way through a panic attack, it’s like quick sand. The harder you fight the deeper you sink. 

So, when my therapist suggested that me taking time off from work to focus on my health was, in some way, giving up…I sat with the notion appreciating the moment to consider its validity but ultimately decided that he can’t tell me what I know is best for me. No one can. 

For the past year and a half, I have relied on the support advice and guidance of a team of specialists. Therapists, psychiatrists, doctors who have all be helping me get back to healthy; to achieve some sembalance of a new normal. What I am coming to learn though, is that I am the ultimate authority on me. No one else. And while each professional may be giving me the very best advice from their specific perspective, I am the boss. So the decision that I make is the one that matters. Further, I am unwilling to surrender that power to someone else. 

I was ready to assume radical responsibility for myself. I was ready to be free. I am ready to anchor myself to the voice inside me that is gently pleading with me to pause. I am ready to create space for stillness and silence in my life so that I can see and hear and feel what is best for me. Subsequently, I also have to be ready for the judgment from others that my way is the wrong way. The easy way. The maladaptive or less progressive way. I have to hold the guilt of “not performing” ((I say this in quotes because I will be performing a great deal of self-care but in our society, it is framed as selfish and not as valuable or prestigious as being “busy” “tired” “overwhelmed” and a little bit miserable.)) 


Shame language. I hear it from others and I hear it from myself. But then I follow with Marianne Williamson’s beautifully anointed words, “…I am a child of God.” Maybe I’m spoiled. Maybe I have a sense of entitlement. Maybe my privilege has afforded me a disillusioned sense of how life ought to be and who I ought to be in relationship to it. Maybe all those things are true. But what is also true is that I am the one who has to live with the consequences of my actions or inactions. So I have to be my number one advocate and I have to remember that I am under no obligation to make sense to other people. 

I had a doctor tell me yesterday 

Jessica, no one but us knows our destiny. Do not give up on yourself.

And with all that said, I am ready to do what I know is best for me. 


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