When It’s Okay to Walk Away: Fighting the 2 Main Fears that Keep You from Experiencing Freedom

Why are we as women so afraid to walk away from things?

That’s been a pressing question on my mind recently, and I decided to address it here because I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s asking that question.

Maybe you’re on a career path that you wish was so much different. Perhaps you’re living somewhere that you thought you would love but you secretly hate. Maybe you’re attending your dream school that’s no longer a good fit.

You want to walk away from _____ situation, but you choose to stay. Why? I believe the answer to that question is fear. These are two of the main fears that keep us in a rut and keep us from experiencing real freedom.

1. Fear of Being Perceived Negatively

“If I don’t use my college degree in my career, everyone will judge me.”

“If I return home from the mission field, everyone will think I’m a weak Christian.”

“If I start a new career at this point in my life, everyone will think I’m having a mid-life crisis.”

These are just a few examples of excuses that women give for why they don’t walk away from negative situations. As human beings, we want to be perceived positively. We want others to think that we’re beautiful, smart, successful, etc. And we do things (like stay in negative situations) to avoid being perceived negatively—as flakes, failures, wimps, etc.

This subtle behavior became clear to me after college. I knew so many students who had chosen majors that honestly seemed like a bad fit for them. Yes, there are many reasons why students choose their majors.

Personally, however, I think that some students pursue majors to avoid being perceived negatively.

Perhaps Student A’s coach encouraged her to major in health science, and she didn’t want to disappoint her coach. Maybe Student B had always planned on majoring in math, but when she got to college and realized her major was too hard, she didn’t want to switch majors halfway through her freshman year and be viewed as a dummy. Or maybe, even simpler, Student C decided on a whim to major in psychology because she didn’t know what the heck to major in but didn’t want to be judged for taking so long to decide.

2. Fear of Feeling Like a Failure

“If I leave this career field and enter a new career field, I’ll always regret it.”

“If I break up with my boyfriend, I’ll probably hate myself for it.”

“If I stop serving in this ministry, I’ll feel like a terrible Christian.”

These are just a few more examples of excuses that women give for why they don’t walk away from negative situations. However, these excuses are self-focused. We sometimes choose to stay in difficult situations because we’re afraid of how we’ll perceive ourselves—as flakes, failures, wimps, etc.

After my college graduation, I had to wait nine long weeks to finally get a job. In theory, the job sounded great. I was able to work remotely, the pay and benefits were good, and the work itself seemed simple enough. However, after having that job for a few months, I knew I couldn’t keep it—mainly because of the management and my coworkers. So I had two options: (1) continue working for the company and be miserable or (2) quit my job and find a new one.

I chose Option 2. And I never looked back.

Within days of quitting that job, I was offered two new jobs. I chose one and started working there immediately. Several months into my second post-college job, I can say that I don’t regret leaving my first post-college job. Yes, it required me to take a leap of faith, but it was a worthwhile leap and God graciously provided.

If You Don’t Read Anything Else in this Post, Read This

Friends, I don’t want there to be any confusion about my statement that it’s okay to walk away from some negative situations. First, I believe that God does call us to do hard things at times and that there are some things that we shouldn’t walk away from, like our faith and our families. Second, I know that it’s not okay to be discontent with the situations that God has placed us in.

But there are situations that we need to walk away from in order to find freedom that we’ve never experienced before—freedom to explore what else God has in store for us. Because if you stay instead of walk away, you’ll never know what you’re missing out on.

So, to clarify, it’s okay to walk from a situation if your only objective in staying is to prove to yourself or someone else that you can stay. There’s no freedom in that; there’s only bondage to your pride and desire to please people. But, if your objective in walking away is to see where else God might be leading you, then I definitely think you should consider it.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV, emphasis mine)

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