It should come as no surprise that I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I love to win, and I need life to happen on my terms–or else we’re in trouble.
So, letting go isn’t exactly my strong suit.
*correction* Letting go at an appropriate time isn’t exactly my strong suit.
I can let go of people, places, and things–I just hold on far too long before deciding, “Okay, now would be a fantastic time to let go, I’m officially bored and/or hurt.” (3 years too late usually.)
Here’s a brief list of things I struggle letting go of on time:
- Romantic relationships
- Toxic friendships
- Negative experiences with someone/someplace
- Mistakes/feelings of failure
Yeah, so as you can imagine it’s a super good time when I’m holding on to something for dear life just for the sake of it. Why do I do this? A few reasons:
- I like things on my time (whatever that means). If something feels like it’s ending before I’m ready for it to, I’ll definitely white-knuckle it. Not my best strategy but hey, it works.
- I’m a fixer. I don’t like walking away from situations before I feel like I’ve given them my best go. If I haven’t tried 110% to fix it, I’ll stick around until I do. Even if I know it’s hopeless.
- I’m terrified of getting it wrong. And somehow, somewhere, I decided that letting go–at a less than ideal time–equates to “getting it wrong.”
These 3 qualities have caused me an extensive amount of pain and way too many hours of overthinking. Not to mention a boatload of missed opportunities. So, I decided something had to change: I had to get way better at letting go–at an appropriate time.
My game plan was pretty simple:
- Just let go.
That’s it. Innovative, I know.
My first true test came when I realized I’d been holding on to the wrong career for 8 months too long. If you’ve read my piece about quitting without a plan, you know what this process was like. I knew I had to let go. I knew holding on was draining my energy and preventing me from excelling in other areas of my life. So I decided to walk away–without a plan.
It ended up being the best decision I made in 2018. Hands down. How did I do it? I just let go.
I let go of my perception of “successful” and the need to “prove my value” through a corporate, Fortune 500 career.
I let go of my need to please my superiors and provide quality work that wasn’t making the impact I desired.
I let go of my fear of failure and the belief that walking away might mean walking straight into unemployment.
I let it all go–and I jumped.
How did I know it was the right choice? I felt it in my soul, and I decided to trust myself. I chose to believe that the path that’s right for me will feel right. It will be obvious. It will spark joy and nurture creativity. It will be a piece of me.
Leaving a job is one thing, leaving a human is another. Let’s talk relationships.
I’ve had my share of interesting encounters with men (that’s a topic for another time), but I’ve also dated some guys who were genuinely great humans. Kind. Motivated. Authentic. Intelligent. Giving. Attractive. You know the drill.
And guess what? They ended up not being my human. There came a time in the relationship where I realized, “This isn’t the one for me.” But instead of leaving right then and there, I stuck around for a few weeks…or months.
Why? Because walking away from a person you love and respect is terrifying–even when you know it’s the right thing to do. Plus, I was always able to convince myself that if I just made a little change I could make it work. It had to be me, right?
It was the relationship dynamic, the timing, the communication, and honestly–the lack of effort on both sides. All things that could be “fixed,” but weren’t. And that’s ok! What’s not ok is wasting mine or his time by sticking around instead of letting go.
Unlike with walking away from my job, I haven’t mastered the art of walking away from people quite yet. But I’m getting better. Here’s what my process looks like now:
- Recognizing when something begins to feel “off” and communicating that with my partner–even though it’s super duper uncomfortable.
- Allowing myself space to really dig into why I’m feeling that way and if it’s something else entirely: stress from work, family problems, etc.
- Journaling about my feelings/thoughts so that I can digest them further and pinpoint any underlying fears or worries.
- Tuning in to my intuition and choosing to listen and act. Even when it’s scary.
- Deciding staying true to myself and my needs is more important than making sure someone else ends up happy.
This process hasn’t been easy–but it’s definitely helped me move on from situations that obviously weren’t meant for me. And it’s reduced the amount of time I’ve wasted thinking instead of acting immensely.
Fast forward to present day and I’ve let go of a lot over the past few months:
- Comfortability: I picked up and moved 1200 miles across the USA to a city I’d been in twice before…after quitting my job…and starting my own business. Let’s just say–nothing is comfortable anymore, and I love it.
- Perfectionism: Okay, I haven’t COMPLETELY let go of this one, but I’m working on it!
- A relationship: Ya’ll, I was dating someone (on the low) that was so so so so so not good for me. Good human. Not for me. And we let that GO.
- Animosity: Toward old friends, family members, and past situations.
I’m happier, more productive, and healthier than I’ve ever been (inside and out). And I’d like to think a lot of it is due to my journey with letting go. Hopefully you can join me.
Someone once told me harboring anger toward someone is like holding a hot coal–you’re burning no one but yourself. That’s how I view holding on when you should be letting the f go. You’re only hurting yourself.
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “Wow, I relate. There are some things I should be letting go of…” DO IT. Let it go babe. Walk away. Release yourself. Give yourself space to let the good in. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.