Life is short—too short to spend time and energy on things that don’t serve us or our goals and morals.
For a very long time, I believed that in order to be successful and to be happy, I had to follow a certain plan. I had to work my way up, pay my dues, live in service of other people’s goals. I felt I had to give up my individuality to make myself acceptable to others. To some extent, all that is true. We live in a structured society, and that comes with certain expectations of behavior. We are expected to contribute to society in some way, but it took me far too long to realize that what I have to offer is in fact of value. I don’t have to give up who I am or what I want out of life in order to be valuable.
Life is full of compromises. We are all individuals with our own thoughts and opinions, so of course, we’re bound to see things differently at times. That’s okay. What’s not okay is when you feel you have to sacrifice your own values to become what you believe others want you to be.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve learned that my definition of success has been skewed. I thought I had to make a lot of money to be successful, and I thought happiness and success would go hand in hand. For a couple of years now, I’ve been working more than full-time. Since the pandemic, I’ve worked approximately 70 hours a week every single week. I worked so much to create a lifestyle I thought I wanted, but instead, I got burnt out. I pushed myself too hard and worked for the wrong reasons, fulfilling other people’s goals rather than my own.
In the past couple of months, I’ve made a lot of changes in my life. I moved to a new apartment that finally feels like home. I bought my first car. I started branching out to new friends and new experiences. Even with all of these changes, I still haven’t been feeling fulfilled. I realized recently that the missing piece has been the lack of focus on my career, so I made the decision to transition out of the service industry. Starting in July, I’ll be working only two days a week as a server/bartender as opposed to five. I love the restaurant where I work, and I love the staff. I’ve made some of my best friends in Cincinnati through this job, but I realized it’s time to focus more on the work that fulfills me.
It’s scary to leave something that’s been comfortable for so long. The restaurant was my first full-time job out of college, and I’ve been there for nearly two and a half years. I know that that’s not what I want to pursue in life, though, and the feeling of emptiness and sadness has gotten to the point that I know it’s time to move on.
Letting go of something that no longer serves you and your goals is not easy, but at the end of the day, you have to take care of yourself. Take that leap, apply for your dream job, leave the job that’s not fulfilling you, make that move across the country. Whatever it is that you’ve been putting off for fear of leaving what’s comfortable, go for it. Life is too short to let it pass you by.
As always, stay safe + stay healthy.