No Such Thing as Too Late

If there’s anything I learned this year, it’s that ultimately, perseverance and ambition are the two things that matter most when it comes to pretty much anything: survival, success, relationships… You name it.

As it is, we’re looming up on Christmas. I don’t celebrate, personally, but I love sending out Christmas cards. There’s something about both sending and receiving them that makes me smile, and ultimately, the biggest expense is the stamps. For me, it’s an odd Christmas as well, as I’ve lost two people who were very close to me: my grandmother, and Bruce Nazarian. Interestingly, those are the two people who pretty much embody the word perseverance. And they also taught me, really, that there’s no such thing as too late to start over, or that it’s impossible.

Hey, technically, I can say that perseverance and starting over are genetically ingrained in me.

My family came to NY in very late 1994. My grandparents joined us in 1996. My grandmother was… 75 at the time, give or take. Already on in years, already trouble remembering things as she used to, and here she was, going to another country halfway around the globe, because her only daughter and her family was there. Think about it: this is a woman who has had a great medical career where she was, survived things that history books conveniently omit, and she had to uproot who she was and what she was at age 75 and come somewhere that she had no concept of language, social structure, etc. anything. But she did it. My grandfather was 74 at the time.

Did they take easily to living in NY? Of course not. You can’t expect two elderly people to adapt as easily. You just can’t.

But wouldn’t you believe that by the end of the following year, my grandfather, in his late seventies, despite the heart condition that eventually took his life, taught himself enough English to at least have a basic conversation?

My grandmother didn’t come as far, but she still made remarkable progress. This was before her memory started to go in earnest.

There is no such a thing as too late. Period. There just. is. not.

Seriously: there’s no such thing as too late to start over. There’s no such thing as ‘impossible to walk away’. There is really no such thing as too late to reinvent yourself, to go forward, etc. No such thing as too late. Yes, you may lose money. You may lose the people around you. You may lose a lot of things. But if you have even the slightest bit of perseverance in your blood, if you have – as Elizabeth Taylor put it – guts and guile, you can start right on over, and you can get further than you think. If, of course, you actually have the guts step out and do it.

My mom did the same thing. Upon coming to NY, with limited English, she found out that her very solid degree in chemistry was worth very little here in the US. She wasted no time before taking up courses to become a lab technician, even if it meant basically re-learning all the terminology, and even adding some new knowledge, in another language. She did it anyway. Why? Because she knew she had to. There was no alternative.

This is true of nearly everything. Living situation, employment, relationships… You name it, it’s applicable. There is no such thing as too late. If you are in such a place where starting from scratch is your only option, believe me when I say that anything is possible if you take that path.

If you don’t know about my first job, I won’t rehash it, but I will say without hesitation that quitting it was the best thing I’ve ever done, both for my career path and my mental health. But it required 1. planning and 2. a major leap of faith. And no, it was not easy at first, but it’s a gamble that I’m glad I ended up taking, because it paid off, both in terms of a solid career path and peace of mind.

I’ve seen more than one friend of mine stick it out in pretty terrible relationship situations as well, and to each and every one of them, I said, “It’s OK to walk out of this. You will never be happy if you stay.” They each fought me on it, and ultimately, they all ended up walking out. And they said, to a T, once they got out of there: “I feel so much better.” Are their situations ideal after they left? No, no. Far from. Two are struggling, and I’ve made more than one bill payment on their behalf – which I don’t care about, and will do again if I can afford as much – but the rest of them have managed to get through and out of the worst of it. It is temporary. This too shall pass. I tell them that, but really, I don’t have to. They know as much. But the first step is acknowledging that yes, it is completely possible to go it alone, to go blind, and to take a leap of faith. If you crash? You can get back up. With time and effort, yes. But so long as you can so much as crawl, you can move forward.

No matter how difficult starting over is, it still beats, any time of day, being in the same situation that’s slowly draining the life and well-being out of you.

If you’re ever in any sort of a situation, in any avenue of life, wondering whether or not you should just get out and cut your losses? The answer is yes. It’s yes if you’re even asking yourself that question. Here’s the deal: if you’re genuinely happy where you are – job, relationship, living space, etc. – the question of “should I get out of here?” really doesn’t even cross your mind. If you hit a snag in any of the above, then you usually try and fix it, without even thinking of leaving. But if you’re wondering whether or not you should just cut the roots and get out of dodge and basically reboot from scratch? Then that’s pretty much the best, if not the only, choice you have. If you’re genuinely happy with your situation, whatever it might be, you don’t wonder about how to get out of it. That’s not how human nature works.

And there’s nothing wrong with it.

People tell you to try harder? People tell you to fix X and Y and then it’ll be better? People tell you that once A, B, and C take place, it won’t be a problem anymore? Screw them all. They’re irrelevant. It’s not an if/then path in the slightest of degrees. If it were a healthy start, it’ll be a healthy finish, but if you’ve walked into a quagmire and see it for what it is, then it’ll still be a quagmire – but it’ll suck you in and drain you of all you have if you stay. There’s nothing wrong with walking away: from a place, workplace, relationship, toxic family member, so on. Don’t base your decisions on people who either 1. benefit from you sticking around in the quagmire or 2. don’t have to deal with the results.

And moreover, you would be extremely surprised as to who might support you in your decision. If all you’re surrounded by are people who are staying silent, then they’re looking to see what you will do. And I don’t know about you, but in my experience, out of 10 people who hear you say, “I need your help”, there are quite a lot of surprises in who will come back with “What can I do to help you?”

K.G.

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