The breakdown before the breakthrough

Out of curiosity: 

Does one truly have to go through a dark night of the soul in order to grow?

Is change really that painful? 

So often in life, we have to work up the courage to be our own champion. Never have I felt that more than now. I guess you could say I’ve lead a pretty easy, sheltered life. Some may even say spoiled. I grew up in a tight-knit, loving family. I did well in school, got the high marks, finished Uni, and got a decent job.

I basically “gave it all away” when I packed up and moved to Ireland, leaving everything I knew behind, including a teaching job which I felt gave my life meaning. Within me, I knew that moving away and furthering my education was the right thing to do at that time. Yet, a year later, a feeling of regret lingers in my chest along with the proverbial “Did I do the right thing?” question floating around in my mind..

Regret is not an empowering feeling to say the least. I blame myself for being silly enough to throw the comforts of a stable job away, to move to a country where I feel like an outsider. And yes, at times I do feel lonely and homesick, especially when the sun doesn’t appear for days on end and I long for a few moments of Houston’s heat and humidity.

Last night, after spending an entire day indoors because of Hurricane Ophelia, my boyfriend and I were preparing for bed. He looked over and asked:

Is everything okay?

Me: Yeah, why?

Him: You honestly just seem a little down recently.

Me: I guess it’s just who I am. 

We ended up staying up the entire night talking (and me crying like a sap into a cup of tea). Understandably, he was concerned by my low mood and, in typical boyfriend form, tried to come up with ways to solve it. Perhaps I was feeling sad because I was stir crazy from staying in the house for so long because of bad weather. Maybe the lack of a “normal” 9 to 5 has me feeling unimportant. Or maybe, the metaphorical elephant in the room was my loss of direction in my life and feeling as though I have nothing to show for myself. Quite a heavy discussion topic for a Monday night, but my rock of a boyfriend gave me the chance to explain myself completely.

The truth is: The self-respect I’m so desperately searching for will not appear from outside sources. I cannot make other people, especially my boyfriend, responsible for my happiness. Additionally, I cannot let my memories of the past occupy too much headspace. As the saying goes, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Having spent so long comparing my life in Ireland now to what I had, did, etc. in Texas stole any chance I had on being content.

*Que the messy, ugly, emotional breakdown*

I’m shedding my perception of what makes me who I am. Without the labels (i.e. student, teacher, etc.) used to describe myself, I am left to define myself in new terms which is both liberating and terrifying. I’ve always had opportunities presented to me. I always knew my place, the role I had to play, the tasks I had to accomplish. Now I’m left with a blank page in front of me. Where do I go next? What should I do??

Each day is a chance to move forward. Though I may not have the clearest picture of where I hope to end up, fulfilling goals each day and being open to challenge myself are ways to fulfill my need for self-approval and dignity.

So, to answer the questions presented earlier:

Does one truly have to go through a dark night of the soul in order to grow? 


Is change really that painful? 


In closing, I am glad I shared my sadness and worries with my partner, and now I guess, the Internet community. Each day may be different, my mood may shift, yet I have to always remember that I have to experience the pain of uncertainty in order to grow and reach my full potential.