Decisions. When do decisions get made? The hard ones. A break up. Voicing a boundary. Moving. Ending a friendship. Quitting a job. I suppose every decision is both starting and ending. Starting something. Ending something.
But what is it? Ending what? Starting what?
Starting something new. Ending something old. Starting something good. Ending something bad. Starting something healing. Ending something toxic. Starting something hard. Ending something easy.
It seems almost simple, put like that.
But it’s not. Decisions aren’t simple.
I think and I think about them. Until I can’t think anymore. I run about them. Run and run until I can’t run anymore. And then, of course, I talk about them. Talk and talk until I can’t talk anymore.
Until I’m finally ready.
Ready to decide.
But even then, what does the decision look like?
Mine looked like this…
Monday, August 14th
It’s the middle of August. With every week that passes, I grow more restless. I want to quit my job. I want to write my book. It’s Monday morning and I sit down at my desk, type in my password to unlock my desktop, and begin clicking here and there, opening my work day one program at a time. Outlook for email. Google Chrome for all the interwebulars — Asana, Evernote, the content calendar. The basics. As I browse through some of my tasks, I cringe. It seems like I’m constantly picking up more and more work but not really learning anything new.
At 9:15am, a calendar notification pops up reminding me to do brand outreach for the 9th week in a row. Oops! I’m 56 days late on that.
Suddenly, my eyes begin to well with tears and I realize I’m about to cry. I make my way to the bathroom, ducking behind one of the stalls, trying to regroup. I curse my period as a quick scapegoat for my swell of emotions but simultaneously know it’s beyond any rise and fall of hormones.
I want out. I feel trapped. I see myself spinning on a hamster wheel, no end in sight.
I scold myself for the ridiculousness of it all. I have a great job. I work with incredible people. Why can’t I just shut up and be happy and grateful?
Because I’ve been turning this decision over and over in my mind.
And I want more.
So, of course, I need to think it over a little more.
I go into my boss’ office and tell him I need to take the rest of the day off, as well as tomorrow. Personal reasons. I’ll be back Wednesday. He’s the complete opposite of me — lax, cool, calm, and collected. He must have noticed the tears because he asks, “Everything good?”
“Yeah, just a few personal things. Just need a bit of time.”
“Okay, well, do what you need to do.”
“Thank you, appreciate it.” I reply.
I pack away my things and head home not entirely sure what it is I need to do.
Tuesday, August 15th
I go to one of my safe spots, my favorite coffee shop. I type out a practical plan of what I would do for work if I really decided to put in my two weeks’ notice and quit my job. I put together a budget. I purchase a domain name for my website. I talk to an old colleague from a past job. I talk to my brother. I breathe. I go home.
Wednesday, August 16th
I go back to work. I’m fine. Maybe I don’t need to quit my job. What am I thinking? How stupid to leave a steady thing for an unsteady thing.
Thursday, August 17th
Work is fine again today. I shouldn’t quit my job. How would I motivate myself to get any work done without being in an office every day?
Friday, August 18th
I get into work and burn through all my mental energy, reminding myself of all the reasons I shouldn’t quit my job.
I work myself into a tizzy.
I pull it together momentarily and head back into my boss’ office, asking for the following two days off. He’s concerned but again tells me, “Do what you need to do.”
I hang with my brothers that night and then meet up with a friend in San Diego.
Saturday, August 19th
I get home from San Diego and go to hang with my brothers again. I haven’t made my decision but their presence makes me feel grounded.
Sunday, August 20th
I ride bikes to the beach with a girlfriend. We talk about my decision. I go home to read, write, and plan some more.
Monday, August 21st
Anxiety rips through me when I wake up. It’s weird to not be at work but I know I need space.
I ride my bike to the beach, solo this time. I go in the ocean, dipping my head all the way under.
I dive under a few waves and, as I make my way out of the water, I find one lone sand dollar sitting on the sand.
I tuck the sand dollar away in my backpack and ride home.
Tuesday, August 22nd
I set a meeting with a life coach of sorts. I tell her about my plans to leave my job, and she challenges me by inquiring about the urgency of it all.
“It’s not urgent though,” I explain. “I’ve been sitting on this decision for months. It’s just these past few weeks that have felt more pressing than others.”
I feel the old tick of nervousness at the lack of others’ approval. But I’ve thought this through. I hold my ground.
Wednesday, August 23rd
Being back in the office I feel things out and affirm my decision.
Thursday, August 24th
Every decision is both starting and ending. Starting something. Ending something.
But what is it? Ending what? Starting what?
Starting a dream.
Julianna Lembeck is a storyteller, both in her creative writing and professionally for marketing clients. She lives in Orange County and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration by: Juliet Romano.