Once upon a time, I went to Ireland… and I hated it.
There were many things wrong with it: it was thousands of miles away from home, I was missing everything (including seeing my brother graduate high school and celebrating my 21st birthday with my friends), and they drove on the wrong side of the street and I had this job that totally wasn’t for me. That’s what I told my mom, anyway, that Monday afternoon about five days after I had arrived, trudging up the stairs to get to the LUAS (an above-ground subway).
“I don’t like it and I want to quit and I want to come home and, like, this isn’t what I signed up for and I miss you and can I come home now?” She listened patiently, then told me I could come home, but only if I stayed for just a little bit longer, just to make sure that I really did hate it after all.
Fast forward approximately three months later, and I felt disappointed as the plane landed back on US soil. I was home. And the magical summer abroad, where I learned and loved many things, was over, including my job as intern-extraordinaire at New Island Books. I had listened to my mom’s advice, and I had stayed, and I had had one of the best summers of my life (and one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had, too).
I returned to Michigan State for my senior year, ready to start a 15-credit hour semester with three jobs. For one of them, I worked at a newspaper. And for many reasons, most nights I went home sobbing, hating every minute of my four-hour shifts.
“I don’t like it and I want to quit and can’t I just come home?” She repeated what she had said a few months prior: I could quit, but only if I stayed just a little bit longer.
I did. And I still quit three months later. It was for more reasons than “I didn’t like it,” but the fact of the matter was I was so unequivocally miserable in life (at the time) and with that job that I needed to go.
My mom taught me to never be a quitter. You finish what you start, and that is that.
But I think there’s a fine line between choosing happiness over staying just to prove a point to yourself or someone else. There comes a time when you know something isn’t working and you have to be honest with yourself. Sometimes, my mom isn’t right.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that there is not always a best answer to the situation. Could I have left Ireland and been happy? I think so. Could I have suffered through that newspaper job and been okay? Probably.
Hindsight can give you the answers you wished you had had, but there is something to be said for your instincts. Trust your heart. Follow happiness, wherever it takes you. But maybe consider sticking with something, even if you aren’t 100% happy at first, because you never know where life will take you. Sometimes my mom is right, and sticking with something will give you one of the best experiences of your life.