Navigating Big Changes from a Grieving Daughter

Change has always been hard for me, and I tried to avoid it when I could. But then I lost two parents and my home in less than two years. Talk about change!

Moving apartments, losing parents, changing my health insurance, phone plans, the list goes on. Both emotional and material changes. There was one thing that I had that never changed for almost three years, and that was my job. I had it through everything. When I first found out my mom was dying, when she died six months later, when Covid hit, when my dad went into the hospital, when he came back more a patient than a father, and when he eventually passed away – during all of this, I always had my job to hold onto. Every two weeks, I had one consistent thing no matter what: a steady and stable paycheck. This became so much more to me than just a job. It become the home that although many times I didn’t necessarily like, it was something to fall back on. Work became intertwined with my emotional life. I called my coworkers my “family,” and I felt indebted to the place that always let me come back when everything was crumbling. How could I ever leave?

But the thing is (and this was really hard to realize) my world isn’t crumbling anymore. At least, not like before. Sure, there are so many things that can go wrong just like anyone’s life, but I don’t have another parent to lose that I’ll have to take off 7 days for shiva for or those random days needed in the hospital. I don’t have anyone that I need to take care of that is terminally ill. And that’s what was really holding me back from being able to leave and move on with my career. I couldn’t process the change and risk of leaving and then not having my second “home” to come home to. I started at this job when I was 21 years old, and six months into the job, I lost my mom. I was 23 years old, taking care of my elderly dad, covid hit, and I was finishing up school. And I still had my same job. Consistency. Stability. No fear in that. And then, 19 months later, I lost my dad. Then, 3 months after that, my home. Now, I am 24, graduated school, parentless, and – same job.

Can you see yet how it isn’t just a job? And why the thought of leaving causes me more stress and anxiety than I had probably had even about my own parent’s death. Because death isn’t tangible. The future of life after death isn’t tangible. But the loss of a job? That is. Leaving the place you’ve spent more time in than home and the people you’ve spent more time with than your actual closest friends – that is tangible. The idea of hating the new place, or losing that one, or not finding a new job – that is tangible. Losing money, losing insurance, losing that stability that you had for almost three years – a real, tangible, loss. Even if I’m the one causing it.

But the most important thing that I lost, while clinging to this job so strongly during everything that I went through, was boundaries. And that’s something that I need to get back. It’s risky. It’s scary. It could very well quite possibly be the shittiest new job ever. But life is short, and what would I regret more? Staying in a place because I’m comfortable and out of fear? Or saying yes to an opportunity that could be even better?
The answer lies within trusting myself. I wondered in this decision process what my dad would tell me to do. And I think at the end of the day, that more than anything, he would want me to work hard and achieve great things. And I know that I am able to go out there and try my hardest to achieve what I want to achieve. And maybe that’s the scariest thing. Because if you try, there’s a high chance you’ll fail. And if you work hard, there’s a chance it won’t pay off. And how scary is it to take that chance? That chance of failure, of loss, of more loss when I’ve already lost so much. How scary is it to go out and try and fail, and then you have nothing else to hold onto? When you see that your hopes and dreams won’t actually come true? It’s easier to hold on to your dreams than to go out and lose them. But how much scarier to not? About not taking that risk and missing that chance to succeed? To have regrets, to not use this one precious life I have to run after what I want?

I don’t know yet how to get there, but I know the first step is making this decision to trust myself. And then, I can take it from there. And I can do it. I can. I can. I can. And, I will.

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