When it first started, it was great. I took a leap of faith, a huge pay cut and dove in 110%. I was excited. I was devoted. I couldn’t wait to be a part of something great.
It wasn’t long before I realized I had been hoodwinked. I realized that even though something is pretty on the outside, it could have poison coursing through its veins. Soon everyday became the same and the excitement wore thin.
My alarm would go off for the first time and I’d start thinking of excuses. I’m sick. My dog’s sick. My cat’s sick. My fiance is sick. My basement flooded. My car won’t start. You’re crushing my soul. I hate this…
An endless loop of reasons to get myself out of going into the office and facing whatever the day would bring. I’d snooze my alarm 4 times, 5 times, 6 times, all while my mind churned through excuses as quickly as Lucy and Ethel worked that conveyor of chocolates. Excuses as to why I shouldn’t go in being fought with reasons it was important for me to fulfill my obligations. Obligations always won.
As the responsible adult I am, I’d roll out of bed and drag my body to the shower. Sometimes it felt like I was fighting myself. Every step I took was a step against my own might. Part of me fighting to stay home by reminding me that every once in a while I had to make a decision for me and not for everyone else. The other part of me pushed back by reminding me that I needed to be responsible and people were depending on me. Obligations always won.
After the shower I’d keep myself busy for a while, even though I never had the time to. I would sweep, change the pet food and water, dust in the bathroom and put a fresh coat of paint in the hall way. I would do laundry, start knitting a sweater and lay on my back staring at the ceiling. My mind working overtime making arguments and counter arguments until my eyes crossed. Every single morning, Obligations won.
Eventually I’d snap out of it and almost always end in a hurried panic to get out the door and to work on time. I put some makeup on, comb my hair, throw on a work appropriate outfit and my Obligations would pull me out the door. I would walk to my car cursing the weather, the day, and how far away Friday was. Before I even left my driveway the internal bickering would start. My mind like a Rolodex of obligations and rebuttals and I, the salesman, fingering through until I find the one that sticks. What would be thrown at me today? How would my character be tested? How am I going to get through this without losing myself in the mix? But I promised I’d be there. Obligations win.
Once I was in my car, it’s over. I knew where I was going. I switch into autopilot and zone out to the music. Pull in, and so starts another day, I’d begin the countdown to 6 o’clock.
You know- and this is important- Sometimes I joke with my mother about how I am envious of those people raised without a conscience or morals. How easy is their life? For them, Obligations never win. They could drive away from their responsibilities without any feeling of remorse or regret for what they are leaving behind. They have no concerns about keeping their name in high standings. They are only concerned with one thing-themselves. How easy is that life?
I was raised differently. I was raised to hold doors for people and to be honest and true. To always say thank you to the woman who hands you your coffee. To believe that I am not above anyone in the world. I was raised to smile at strangers and be understanding of people’s situations. And to honestly believe that my name, Alyssa Cannella, is an asset that I should hold in high regard and to not tarnish. I suffer from what I have named Good Person Syndrome.
But you know what? I feel like every good person should get a cheat day. Don’t start killing people but do something for YOU, despite what other people may think of it. A day where you don’t let the enormous weight of always doing the right thing drag you down. A day where you aren’t being pulled here and there, or forced to nod a head even when you don’t want to. A day where you don’t have to be everything to everybody, but just you to yourself. A day where you just keep driving, right past Obligations.
I did it. I used a cheat day. The day that I kept driving and didn’t turn back despite Obligations calling me back. I left the job that was making me question myself and the people around me. Everyday I went to the office, it was etching away at my name that I worked so hard to build. I would come home feeling defeated and nervous about what the future held. All for a paycheck.
So I left.
I left for me. I didn’t let Obligations take my sanity. Or my name. And now that I am free it is clear I am going to be just fine. I do believe that it is in ones best interest to (every now and then) just keep driving. If you don’t, you run the risk of becoming stuck. Routine is often mistaken for comfort. It is a known. It’s a paycheck. It’s safe. But it is comfort that persuades you into believing that your dreams can wait. I was done waiting.
The most important things in life are to stay vibrant, stay true but most importantly, stay you. Sometimes all it takes is a little pressure on the gas pedal.