Health Mental Health Personal Growth Work

Assuming no change is an option

Replied to The devil you know | everything changes by Mandy Brown (everything changes)

I had spent months chewing on the various dangers and risks of each step I could take, and had not at all considered the dangers and risks of staying put.

I can see now that I was, in fact, making several mistakes. Principal among them was that I considered no change at all to be a viable option. It wasn’t, and not only because the present circumstances were untenable, but also because they were not static.

The second, related, error was that I assumed that all the risk was in moving, that by definition staying put was the prudent option.

Seconding this so hard. If you’re on the fence about something, and you can swing it, go for the change now instead of sitting on it for another six months. My suspicion is that once you consider quitting, there’s no going back — you’ve mentally admitted that the problems are insurmountable or the battles not worth fighting.

I quit my job 11 months ago. Part of me now thinks I should have quit three to ten months before that. And another part thinks I should have quit years earlier (around the time the pandemic started — but I was scared and wanted stability 🤷‍♀️). I kept thinking that some of the problems I had were about to be addressed, only to have my hopes dashed again and again and again, building up my cynicism and burnout.

While reading Mandy’s post, at first I thought, at least I left before I broke. But that’s entirely wrong. I didn’t break the same way she did; I broke in a different way, earlier, and patched myself together enough to stay. Healing while you’re in the same situation that broke you is pretty tricky, but I didn’t want to admit how much my situation contributed. There were good things about my situation. It was easy to blame my medical issues on the pandemic for a long time — but of course how much impact an external factor like that has on you is influenced by how your workplace and colleagues respond to it too. As Mandy writes, “Things were changing around me; the question wasn’t if I changed but how I changed with them.”

And once I left, I could recognize that I had been hurt more than I realized. (Just today I was looking through the work I gathered for my portfolio and uncovering how much I neglected to take.) Every month since, I’ve unfurled a little more. I cannot overstate how much better I feel today than I did a year ago — overall and on a daily basis — and even then I was feeling what seemed exponentially better than a year prior, thanks to therapy and health coaching and a nutritionist’s support and tackling my insomnia and making space to exercise and getting on medication. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have needed that level of support anyway, but in retrospect it’s possible I might not have needed quite so much help if I hadn’t had the same daily stressors.

Admitting my needs sometimes feels like a personal failing because I cannot bear what most people do — but then I see American health statistics and wonder if everyone’s bodies are shouting at them, and I’m just one of the few who has listened? (I recognize most people are not able to listen due to a combination of systemic pressures, cultural indoctrination, and personal choices, and I am so relieved that I currently have the option to not literally destroy myself.)


If you are miserable with where you are right now.

What if you could not be?

Your own happiness is not a frivolous desire.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

One reply on “Assuming no change is an option”

I third this! I’ve always said inertia is my greatest nemesis. It’s where time flies and before I know it years have passed with no traction. It’s scary to get moving but when we look back it’s scarier how much scarce time we lost by not getting going.

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