Is it difficult, or just dramatic?
Those words are dramatic.
I used to think that quitting your job was the craziest, bravest thing you could do. Then I did it twice, without anything lined up after, and realized that it's not that crazy or hard.
More importantly, over the years, I realized that walking away isn’t always the bravest option.
Our culture certainly glorifies the idea of a dramatic exit. We can confuse the act of getting up and walking out as being the hardest part.
But what if the difficult part is speaking up while there's still a chance to fix things?
Something or someone is bothering you, and it keeps festering, festering, festering. Until you just can't take it anymore.
Maybe a coworker was disrespectful for the eleventh time.
Maybe your boss, yet again, dismissed your hard work.
Maybe your mother used that tone of voice that triggers you, and has for years.
In the moment, it's easy not to speak up for a few reasons:
(a) Confronting the person means conflict. Conflict is uncomfortable. It's easier to convince yourself that it's really not that bad, and there's no reason to exaggerate.
(b) Suffering in silence feels like you have the moral high ground. You're being the bigger person by letting it go. You're absorbing it all.
(c) If things really get bad, you daydream about how gleeful it will be when you walk out. You'll have the last word, and oh boy, they'll be sorry when it's too late.
It's easy to imagine a triumphant, declarative, dramatic exit.
When you've experienced death by a million cuts, the decision is easy: you let go because you no longer care. At that point, there is so much evidence that the person has obviously wronged you... How could you do anything else but walk away?
But there's another option, and sometimes, it's the harder choice:
You can choose to speak up when there is still time to change the dynamic. When you still have the psychological bandwidth to want to change things.
While you still care.
Now there's a new dilemma.
You now have the responsibility to deal with the anxiety of having to figure out how to have this conversation. How to talk to your coworker, how to approach your boss, how to bring up a tricky topic with your friend.
That's not easy. There's no guarantee that it'll work.
But something happens when you commit to trying to figure it out, bit by bit. When you decide that it's worth speaking up and learning how to express what you want to say.
You begin to create an environment for dialogue and honesty that deepens bonds between people.
Regardless of what the outcome is, when you do the hard work of getting through to another human being, you grow.