How to stay when you want to go

Dear Daughter,

This past weekend, you went to a friend’s house for a sleepover. (Back in the day they were known as “slumber parties,” which sounds way more fun than “sleepover,” but somewhere along the line the terms have changed. Such a shame.) You were having a blast until it came time to go to bed, at which point you called me three times, begging me to come get you and bring you home. So finally, because I love you and can’t stand to hear you cry, I crawled out of bed at two in the morning to pick you up.

The other reason I caved is because I’ve been there. I remember being at a friend’s house and having fun, and then suddenly having an overwhelming desire to be in my own bed, near my own parents, in my own cozy home. I know what it’s like to be so homesick that nothing could change my mind about wanting to leave.

The thing is, though, sometimes you won’t be able to leave, or you shouldn’t, even if given the chance. Sometimes you’re going to be in uncomfortable situations that will make you feel lonely and miserable, and the best thing to do, the strongest thing to do, is just to stick it out and stay. The ability to do so will benefit you greatly in the long run.

It may seem silly, but this incidence—we’ll call it the Sleepover Conundrum—can be compared to what you’ll go through with exercise, work, friendship, marriage… anything that you might want to quit but shouldn’t. (Of course there are exceptions but we’ll deal with that another time.) Choosing not to quit, even when you’re scared, will make you a better person and will actually make life easier. It will help you practice commitment, discipline, perseverance and flexibility. And the more you stick through the tough times, the less scary they will appear over time.

Another tip: when you’re in the midst of a Sleepover Conundrum moment, try to focus on all of the good things about the situation. When you’re exercising and it hurts, imagine how great you’re going to look and feel afterwards. If you’re tempted to unfriend someone who’s upset you, remember all of the good things she’s done for you. When you’re at a sleepover and suddenly desire to go home, focus on the fact that you get to stay up late hanging out with your closest friends. There’s a positive spin to every circumstance, and honing in on those positives makes quitting seem less desirable.

Let’s say goodbye to conundrum and hello to commitment.



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