My son rolls his eyes at me now.
When I tell him about how 'in the olden days' I went on my bike to school.
Eight kilometres. Against the southwester storm.
Overtaken by the one overcrowded bus an hour that went to the town my school was in. Filled with the lucky kids who had actually persuaded their mums to pay the bus fare.
Hundreds of kids on their bikes, all soaking wet. With shoes that wouldn't stop squelching throughout the school day.
'It never did ME any harm!', my mum used to say.
And sent us on our way.
I recalled the whole experience to my partner the other day.
Including that (probably only one) time when it wasn't a southwester storm, but a northeastern instead. With snow. And ice. And hundreds of kids in a line trying to ride our bikes through 10 centimetres of snow. Coming home with frozen ears and fingers.
Ah, the good old days!
I want to talk a little bit about that little sentence. 'It never did me any harm'.
You see, it has been getting to me that.
For me it's wrong on so many levels.
As if you can automatically assume that what is OK for you is OK for me.
As if people should endure the same thing as you only because you chose to. Or had to.
As if you're exerting your own weird sort of revenge on others or the generation after you.
It implies the other person knows better than you. It imposes someone else's world view on you. It implies that you can never aspire to more than what the other person had.
None of which sits well with me.
You see, the way I see it, there is this balance to be had.
No one wants to endure pain. But we learn through overcoming obstacles. We become resilient, strong, and able to overcome whatever life throws in our way by doing things, by finding our way through it.
Every choice you make will come accompanied by hurdles to climb, obstacles to overcome.
But what, exactly, is the difference between your ability to overcome obstacles and enduring ongoing pain?
When are challenges no longer challenges to overcome, but continuous agony.
When are you in your right to say 'enough is enough'?
You see, it's not just my mum saying it. We may encounter this in the workplace too.
'What's good enough for me is good enough for you.'
'We've always done it this way.'
Or, if we don't hear these things spoken out loud it is all too obvious from the actions (or in-action) taken by management.
What I'm saying is this:
What's good enough for me *may* not be good enough for others.
What didn't harm me *may* harm you.
We are all individuals. Who know our bodies. Who know our minds.
Yes, experience teaches you that you ARE resilient. That you CAN overcome obstacles. That you CAN withstand a certain amount of stress.
Doesn't mean that you have to continue doing it if the rewards are not worth it.
Doesn't mean that you have to ENDURE it for prolonged periods of time.
Doesn't mean that you have to STAY and continue doing it. Just because others can. Just because others do.
The way I see it - if you feel you are on the path to having to ENDURE prolonged pain - there are three things you can do:
1. Stay where you and be unhappy
2. Navigate your way to happiness or some sort of contentment RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE
3. Leave. Ideally with a plan.
But know this.
You know you. You know your body. You know your mind. You KNOW when you're unhappy. Even if others say 'It never did ME any harm!'
Staying where you are, keeping on doing what you're doing, just because you feel you have to.
Is that really what you want?
Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler.
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