when in doubt, move out

For the purposes of this post, I must refer to one of my all-time favorite movies, that doesn’t make much sense when broken down, but feels really good going down, even years later.

The Dark Knight Rises.

But, oh, what epic-osity. What intensity. What spell-binding storytelling, heroism and gravitas. As an aside, I’m rather pleased that Christopher Nolan is encouraging his viewers to “feel” his much-anticipated film, Tenet, rather than make sense of it. It’s high time he gave such a suggestion. Because that’s where his movies excel, in making you feel a very specific way. It’s his signature.

But why am I bringing up a superhero movie, filmed almost entirely in grey and urban despair, when the title of this post has to do with moving out?

Well, because of one scene. The scene where Bruce Wayne climbs out of Bane’s hell-hole prison, without a rope, making the viewer question everything he believes about safety nets and “having a plan b.”

That’s real life, right there.

I spent years trying to anticipate potential disaster, mitigate losses, plan meticulously for doing things the right way, at the right moment, with everything just…right. It left me frustrated, anxious and aware that I was wasting my potential, yet not quite able to cut ties–because I wasn’t even sure exactly where they were.

I moved out in February in the middle of, let’s say, a personal breakdown. I moved because I had to. Because I couldn’t take my life the way it was anymore. And it was the best decision I’ve ever made, in the worst state of mind.

I was too busy to appreciate the full gravity of what I’d just done, and that turned out to be a very good thing.

I immediately got to work living and working, paying bills and being on my own for the first time in my nearly 30 years of life. It wasn’t until much later that I realized what a leap that truly was, and how thinking about it too much would have actually nipped it in the bud.

But, because I moved out, I was able to see my life as if from a crop-duster. I saw where I leaned too heavily on my family for emotional support, where I had become codependent, where I lacked motivation because of the safety net. My entire life up to that point–my frustration, wasted potential, and irritable boredom–all made perfect sense. But I never would have gotten that view if I hadn’t accidentally taken the grand leap out of desperation.

This is why I say when in doubt, move out.

Living with family and family itself, are both blessings. But they can also be major blinders. I doubt I need to go into great depth on this. Buuuuut, why not!

When you live with family that you’ve been a part of your entire life, you forget that you are an individual, at times. You might be so accustomed to playing the role you’ve always played, that anything else sounds crazy or dangerous or stupid, or like someone is speaking Greek. I used to listen to motivational videos often, but they never really clicked.

When you continue playing an old role, who you really are might surprise you. I discovered some not so great things about my personality and character that needed work! For one, I’m not nearly as patient as I thought I was. I always got to play the role of sensible peacemaker during arguments, so my own patience was never tested. I actually have very average patient levels, but never knew it when I had a nice, stable ecosystem that masked my own weaknesses. It would have taken me a lot longer to figure that out, if I hadn’t moved out.

When you’re in one spot for too long, you begin to doubt yourself. I learned, quickly and by necessity, that I can survive without my family bolstering my every move. That I can get a job at a large company. That my credentials do hold up. I hadn’t realized until moving out and getting a job that wasn’t in the family, how much I doubted my own abilities. Until this year, everything felt like an inside job: My parents liked having me as a renter, but would another landlord? My family was eager to hire me, but would a larger company? Was I just a big nothing-burger?

Until I took the blind leap, I honestly couldn’t answer those questions. Now, I know without a shadow of a doubt.

At this point, you might be expecting a disclaimer, some sort of “but hold on now, don’t be thoughtless, kids.” But this is how I see it. We can either say, “In uncertain times, moving out is too risky.” Or we can say, “In uncertain times, staying here is too risky.”

And I do mean this. Sometimes, staying in the same place is the most dangerous decision of all; it certainly was for me. Consider a deer in the headlights. The poor deer (due to its advanced capacity for night vision and already-heavily-dilated pupils) has been totally blinded, and thinks it’s safer to stay in one spot, until it regains its sight. We all know how the story ends.

The point is, you can miss a lot when you play it completely safe.

I never would have given as much energy to this blog, to my social media, to my music, or writing, if I was still living at home; much of my time and creativity and thought life were taken up by family dynamics. I never would have made the connections I am making now, or deepened either my professional and personal relationships. I would be missing so much, if I was still living at home, because I didn’t have the space to even imagine anything different.

And that’s what moving out has the potential to give you: Imagination. As Einstein so beautifully said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Back to The Dark Knight Rises.

The very thing Bruce Wayne thought was helping and protecting him when he tried to climb, was actually the reason he was never going to get out of that hole. He had to reject the rope, the plan B, the safety net, to actually escape. And that’s why it’s one of my favorite movie scenes, and certainly one of my favorite movies. It is a dramatized image of real life.

Because, in the end, hedging may feel safer, but is it really?

And I’ll leave you with that.

As ever, remember that you have a powerful mind, an iron will and the heart of a lion.

sincerely,

a.i.a.l.

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