Yesterday, I used the phrase “better-the-devil-you-know mentality” to describe voters; because voters tend to go for the incumbents rather than take a chance on someone new – no matter how dissatisfied they are with the incumbents.
Then I started thinking that this mindset is pretty common across all aspects of human experience. People are afraid of the unknown. People are often cripplingly afraid of the unknown.
That’s why people would rather stay in an unhappy or even miserable relationship rather than strike out on their own. That’s why people will stay at a dead-end job for as long as they will have them there, because they don’t know what to expect in another position. That’s why people will remain living in the same town they grew up in, even if staying there is draining the life out of them.
People will slog away at something that is, for all intents and purposes, hopeless, only because it’s familiar. Beginning something entirely new is more frightening than the prospect of continued failure.
My brother and his wife are a classic example. They are both educated, but can’t get jobs in their fields in the small, economically depressed town they both grew up in. Moving even less than an hour’s drive out of that town would pretty much guarantee them both fairly good jobs without any added living expenses. But they won’t do it, citing the need to be near family. So they struggle year after year after year trying to make ends meet with whatever jobs they can get.
I have a friend who has spent over 30 years of her life trying to be an actor. She gets the occasional roles but they’re sporadic and low-paying at best. She lives in abject poverty and every aspect of her life from her health to her family to her relationships has suffered because of it. And yet she clings to acting and panics when you suggest she might try a different field – just to make some money.
And then there are some of those people on Dragon’s Den (Shark Tank in the US). They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money and years of their time on a business idea they think is brilliant. Then they go on Dragon’s Den and get told their idea is worse than bad and that they’ve wasted a good part of their life and a lot of money they could ill afford on this business. They are told by the experts to drop the idea immediately. But they don’t. They can’t. This is their “life.”
And I know many other people who spend their time basically spinning their wheels because the thought of venturing out of their rut is unfathomable.
I’ve never been that attached to familiarity, so I always find it incredibly frustrating when people I know are incapable of moving forward because they can’t give up on what they perceive to be their “security or their “love” or their “passion” — even if it’s killing them.
On the other hand, people have told me I give up too easily on people, places and things. And that may be true, as well. I don’t know.
If whatever I’m involved with is presenting more frustration, depression, anger and/or despair than it is presenting joy or opportunity, then I’m happy to let it go. I don’t mind moving to a completely new city or trying a new job or leaving behind a familiar network of people. There are many ways to keep in touch with friends and family these days. And even if the new city or the new job turns out to present no more opportunity than the one I left, I haven’t lost anything. So far, I haven’t regretted any of the moves I’ve made whether from one city to another or one job to another or whatever.
So, what about you? Is there any aspect of your life that’s in a rut? Any dead horse you’ve been flogging? What’s your excuse for not having made a change that you know in your heart of hearts is long overdue?
Have you made a change that might have seemed frightening at the time, but turned out to be the best thing you ever did?
Is stick-to-itivness an absolute virtue?