When Is It Too Much?

A once popular British TV comedy show featured a pair of characters who seem to be the best of friends. One is in a wheel chair and seems not only physically, but also mentally disabled. The friend is ever so obligingly taking care of him in each skit. The disabled character would make a choice about something (a trip, a book, a holiday destination, whether or not to go to the bathroom at a more convenient time). The friend would then proceed to gently attempt to persuade the man away from the undesired choice and guide him back toward a more reasonable choice. Always the one in the wheelchair stuck to his guns on the inappropriate choice so his friend eventually gave in. Yet every time the decision was carried out you’d see the one in the wheelchair saying he didn’t really want his choice but rather what the friend suggested. And of course the friend always fixed it. Well nearly always. He couldn’t quite change the holiday destination once the airplane was already taking off.

While this makes for great comedy, I wonder, what if this were a real relationship? Would the friend continue to do things with/for the disabled person? Would the friend ever decide to stop arguing with him and just let him lie in the bed he made, accepting his own consequences? When would the friend finally say, “I’ve had enough.” and just walk away.

I recently met a very nice young lady in the beginning years of her career. (Remember recently is always going to be a relative term with me.) She liked her profession but wasn’t very happy in her job and wondered if it would be worth it to make a change, to another location or a different position. She had come under new management at the beginning of the year and thought she might give it a bit longer, just to see if the fresh new blood made her work environment and the job any better. I commend her for wanting to see how the land lies for now, but how long will she wait?

I was there too. Giving just one more reason to stay, and did so for about three years. Finally, I took the plunge and began applying for other positions within my field.

That was scary, I won’t lie about that. I had been in the same position at the same location for eight years! The idea of being anywhere else, doing anything different, actually having to commute, was never entertained. Yes it was a dream come true to have just a one mile commute! But as the years wore on, and my work environment deteriorated, so sank my acceptance level. Being just a song away from my job became the only good thing I could say about it.

My problem was that I was stuck in a rut of my own making. As a friend of mine once pointed out, I clung to the security of the familiar. Sure that place, that job, stunk to no end, but it was a known odor. If I moved, if I made any waves at all, would I find the same stink or one more foul? Mr. Murphy and I have a complicated relationship. He doesn’t mind and I don’t seem to matter. So his law of things going wrong applies to me categorically. I was just too afraid to take that risk.

Risk nothing gain nothing, though.

I had to leave the security of my familiar when making not one but two changes in my career this school year as it turns out. That was terrifying! But the rewards far outweighed the momentary discomfort I felt in making the change. The best part was that the second decision to make a change was actually easier for this old scaredy cat. And I made it relatively quickly.

I am now doing a job in a much more conducive environment. So what if my commute is over 20 miles now. At least now as I advance forward in my career I am encouraged that taking such risks are going to not only become easier and easier but also I will be a much happier, more productive individual in the end.

My favorite teacher Ms. Frizzle always says, “Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy.” Fabulous advice if you ask me. Well, except the messy bit, unless you are very near a shower.

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