How to Stay Put When You Feel Like Running Away?

Brave the consequences of change.

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Fresh out of university, I was determined to make something out of my life.

I had my dream job, and all I had to do was stick to it. So I rented a cheap 1BHK in an isolated town and decided to devote the next few months to my work.

But once outside the guilty pleasures of the urban social scape. Once beyond the crowd and noise of the metropolis. I felt a sense of discomfort. Acute unfathomable discomfort.

On the first day itself, I was thrown out of my comfort zone. A potent urge to escape dawned upon me. And what initially was a well-intentioned move towards my career now seemed like a grave mistake.

Two days in, and I was ready to pack my bags. I was on the verge of quitting this new endeavor even before it even began. All of it, only because trivial issues like finding a place to eat or sleep bothered me(?)

Now, as you can tell, I had two choices at this point:

  • Avoid the burden of change and suffer its dire consequences.
  • Stay, find a solution to my problems, and grow.

Well, thankfully, I chose the latter, and I stayed. Tackling one problem at a time, I survived. And during this journey of resisting the urge to run away, I learned a lot.

Understand the reason behind the feeling.

For a while, I convinced myself that I just wasn’t made for the peaceful life of a small city. But after days of introspection and learning, I realized that I was too used to the social overload of big cities. I was so used to having people around me that the idea of stepping out into a calming space scared me.

A few months into my stay, I realized that it wasn’t just the social aspect that bothered me. It was a sense of uncertainty that came with my job. For the first time in my life, I was doing what I wanted to do. Staying where I wanted to stay — managing my finances the way I wanted to. As fascinating as that might sound on paper, it scared the living hell out of me.

So although I convinced myself that I wanted to leave because of the “discomforts” of the new city, the real reason was my own inability to cope with the wave of change that came with it.

But ultimately, the decision to stay helped me realize that I should embrace change instead of resisting it. I should embrace uncertainty instead of fighting it.

Creating new habits.

The first month in the new town was smooth. Jumping off the social escalator was working well for me, and I made significant progress with my work. However, the second month hit me with a wave of new problems.

I was overworking myself, often ignoring other aspects of my life. After consistently following a strict workout regime before the move, I had completely given up on fitness. More so, I was hogging on unhealthy food all day, every day. But more than the diet, it was my irregular sleeping patterns that affected me physically and mentally.

Somewhere along the way, while working myself to the bone, I forgot how to take good care of myself.

Yet again, the feeling of running away drifted in, and I started blaming my degrading physical and mental health on the move. A visit to a nearby doctor’s clinic made me realize that I wasn’t even hydrating enough.

Instead of escaping, I decided to tweak my habits by getting enough sleep, restricting my screen time, eating healthy, and getting a little physical activity. Just these minor changes in my habits made me stay a bit longer than I wanted to.

We get so lost in our day-to-day snags that we forget the power of the simplest acts. Just making your bed in the morning can later grow into more significant habits. In turn, it’s these habits that help you get a sense of familiarity even when you feel like you don’t belong.

Stand your ground but learn to back off when necessary.

After getting through so many early challenges, I was finally willing to stay in that little unfamiliar space. Along the way, I faced many other pitfalls, but I stood my ground. As a result, I grew by leaps and bounds, not only professionally but mentally as well. I was sure that everything worth pursuing was ahead of me. But I was wrong.

I was so hyped by the progress I had made because of the move that I refused to back off even when I was emotionally on the edge of completely breaking down.

In my realm of isolation, I learned that it’s wrong to stigmatize solitude. As discomforting as it may seem, it can prove to be quite therapeutic. But then comes a time when you have to balance your inward-focused solitude with some exterior experiences.

I started valuing solitude to an extent where I was unwilling to balance it out. I refused to reach out to friends and family. And that’s when the old feeling returned — I wanted to escape.

This time around, I wasn’t even sure where I wanted to go. I just felt homesick for a place I’ve never been to and wanted to run away from life. So instead of pushing myself beyond my breaking point, I took a step back. Instead of forcing myself to stay, I decided to head back home for a while.

After spending a month with my family, I felt better and far more balanced than I did earlier. One might say that I gave up and ultimately “ran away.” But metaphorically, it’s this running away that re-directed me to my personal goals.

Running away from the inevitable adversities of life may not always be the best option. But it’s also necessary to excuse yourself sometimes so that you can step back and focus on what’s missing. Once that’s done, you can come back to take two steps forward.

Doing nothing has consequences, too.

Well, it’s been a while since I took up that job and moved to the small town. As much as I loved that job, it reached a point where I had to give up on it to make progress. But I struggled to do so.

The uncertainty ahead haunted me. The feeling of running away resurfaced.

Each day I was slacking at my job because I had already lost interest. Instead of working, I would often binge on Netflix, scroll through social media, or take long naps throughout the day to deal with my anxiety. I knew I had to give up on this job to free myself from this feeling of running away. But I did nothing.

When we make decisions, we’re often paralyzed by the fear that it may not be the best one. As a result, we find ourselves in this loop of anxiety where we’re willing to escape life instead of escaping the scenario that’s causing it.

Doing nothing can have bigger consequences than taking the smallest actions. So the next time you feel like running away, think about that one thing that’s making you feel that way — the one thing you need to escape to feel better.

The trials and tribulations of life are not as painful as they seem.

There’s a very fine line between perceived pain and experienced pain. For me, it was the root cause of my anxiety after I quit my job.

Perceived pain is when we get overly pessimistic about our actions. Nothing terrible has happened yet. But we still believe that everything will fall apart once we delve down the path of uncertainty. For instance, I imagined myself being unemployed for several years after quitting the job.

My perceived pain led me into believing that I would be doomed if I quit my job. At the same time, it added to the feeling of “running away.”

Experienced pain — as the name suggests — is the pain we actually experience. It’s negligible compared to perceived pain.

I did quit my job, and it isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, I’m still uncertain about the journey ahead. But I do know that this uncertainty will make me grow more than a job that made me feel stuck.

So if you’re a big fish swimming in a small pond, it’s understandable why you feel like running away. Just drop into the bigger ocean of opportunities and forget about the “perceived pain” that potentially lies ahead. By doing that, you escape your present situation, but not life.




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Dhruv Sharma

Dhruv Sharma

Scribo ergo sum. | Connect:

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