And if not, well it only took 5 minutes to read.
First, let me start off by saying that I am a person who believes in signs of some sorts.
(I implore you to keep reading even if that first sentence throws you off as complete BS. But hey, it’s your life, so you do you.)
About a year ago, I found myself getting restless, considering some type of change, and looking for the sign. I of course had no idea what I was looking for, when it would come, where I would be, or how I would even recognize this mythical sign, but I held out. Mostly, I just like to overthink things and then overthink them again, so the whole “waiting on a sign” thing helped me to procrastinate a bit (which is very much against my nature). At first I told myself that I was only feeling this way because of the pandemic, and that everyone must be feeling this way and I just needed to wait it out.
Waiting it out worked for about 3 months, but I continued to become more restless, especially at work. I loved my job — I loved the people I worked with (for the most part), the types of tasks assigned to me (for the most part), and even the challenges and stress that came along with it (for the most part… sometimes). I recognized my privilege — I was working within a well-known healthcare system, made good money, and was staring down the barrel of no uncertain job security, if this pandemic had anything to do with it. It was difficult, but it was a hospital and everyone was having a difficult time, it was the middle of a pandemic.
I came up with all kinds of reasons to stay, to keep going, to assign my feelings to something else. And, it worked for another while. I told myself that things could only get better and that I should count my blessings. Whatever was going on in my heart didn’t match what my brain was telling me, so I just picked Team Brain as often as I could. Until, my very own sign came.
When we talk about ‘signs’ often it’s some sort of mystical and magical event — the rainbow after a sun shower, a song that reminds us of what’s important right when we need it, or even a wish, prayer, or manifested thought come true. These things are incredible, and when they happen, it’s very difficult to ignore them and their meanings.
My sign, however, was much less an out of body cosmic experience and much more of a…well, a sign. No, a real sign. You know, a piece of wood with words written on it. In particular, the kind that some people (read: me) have all over their houses. It was the kind of sign that someone with a zen room (me again) puts up to read while they do yoga, meditate, journal, or [insert mindful activity here]. This sign though, wasn’t in a zen room, a yoga studio, or even a nail salon. It was in a bathroom. Maybe not the exact place you would expect to find something that causes an epiphany, but it was there nonetheless. And hey, I guess why not hang a sign when you have a captive audience?
The sign said:
“If it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive.”
Please believe me when I say that I have read a great many inspirational quotes. I have written them in my bullet journal, drawn them into being on a sketch pad, put them on fake wood to hang around my house, and even had one inked into my forearm. I am all about the inspirational quotes — but this was one I had never heard before in quite this way. I found myself dissecting it to understand exactly what the message was for me — it was my sign after all.
What is “it”? It for me in that moment was the type of lifestyle I was living, the stress of my job, the constant keeping up with things, the worrying and worrying about worrying. IT was, quite frankly, a pain in the butt. “It” can be just about anything — a job, a relationship, a toxic environment, a task you put on yourself, etc.
What does it look like for something, especially something with no true monetary value, to “cost” anything? Well, the cost can be just about anything. There’s the cost
of time, (money obviously), safety, mental sanity, and security and peace of mind, which leads us to…
Peace is going to look different for everyone. For some of my crunchy granola/yogi/organic friends (whose club I am clearly joining now), peace can be spiritual, metaphysical, time to breathe, space to oneself. For others, it could be as straightforward as peace of mind — feeling secure — or peace and quiet — some time away from all the noise and sensory stimulation. Whatever it is that brings you as close to zen/centered/calm as possible, that is your peace.
…it’s too expensive.
Expense is generally a well understood concept in a capitalist society, but it’s not all about money. There is the expense of time, of patience with oneself and others, of the physical burden placed on the human body.
So, how do I know if “it” is “costing me” my “peace” and thereby is “too expensive”? To understand this further, let’s look at some examples by substituting some different words into the place of the quote.
Remember: If it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive.
- If my involvement in the soccer team (it) is causing me to lose control of my emotions in front of the kids (cost) and makes me feel like a bad father (peace), I am spending too much of my emotional energy on this (expensive).
- When I am at work (it) where the expectations are high, I get more flustered and frustrated than I normally do (cost). This causes significant stress (peace) which I then bring home and take out on my family (expensive).
- As much as I care about my husband, my relationship (it) and our interactions often leave me feeling unlovable (cost), which can often cause my depressive symptoms to go into high gear (peace) and I have trouble letting go for some time afterward (expensive).
These are, of course, just a small selection of examples, but I believe that just about anyone can solve this equation in their own lives. For me, it was my work and anxiety level (it) that were making me feel like I wasn’t good enough or should be able to handle things better (cost). While I knew this wasn’t true, the thoughts would weigh on me, causing a significant drain on my happiness during non-work hours (peace) and I began to feel the anxiety creep in even on weekends (expensive).
Don’t get me wrong — this was not as simple as I lay it out to be. A decision like this can sometimes be made quickly, but sometimes takes a significant amount of time and weighing of options, even if you know the answer all along.
So, if you’ve been looking for a sign, hoping an answer might fall from the sky, or just pondering whether signs really exist, let me give it to you.
HERE IS YOUR SIGN.
Whatever you are looking for, here it is.
Quit the job. Buy the shoes. Break up with that guy. Start your own business. Take the interview. Move to a new state. Cut the toxic friend out. Delete your Facebook account. Read the book; hell, write the book. Go back to school. Take a chance. Make a change. Be yourself.
You can do it. I believe in you. If you need to make a change for the better, take my sign and my confidence in as your own if you need to. Borrow it, or don’t give it back — I don’t care. You will thank yourself in the end, and you’ll have your peace back.