Better The Devil You Know
Updated: Mar 10
By Katja Montesque
Making decisions can be scary, terrifying even, especially when these decisions have the potential to change our lives. If you are a naturally anxious person, or an over-thinker, you probably already know what I mean. If you are not, well, then you are probably one of the blessed ones.
We, as humans, often second-guess ourselves. It’s easy to get carried away with the “what ifs”. We have a tendency to fear we are making a mistake. We are scared of stepping out of our comfort zones, of wading into the dark unknown in search for something better, and oftentimes even convince ourselves that we are better off where we are.
“Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t” right? In Spanish, we have a similar saying which roughly translates to “Better the evil you know, than the good that there is to meet”. This, I am sure you have already figured out, means that it is best to stick to the things you know even if they are bad, than to risk it all for a potential good thing that might not materialise.
We are so scared of change, of the unknown, that we would happily continue doing what we are doing, whilst dreaming about a better future, knowing that we are miserable. All because we are too scared to take a risk, and see what else awaits us.
I quit my job about a week ago now. It was my first “professional” job and my first job after graduating. It was a decision I had been toying with for a couple of months prior to this, and frankly, I never worked up the courage to do it. The whole process, from deciding to hand in my notice, to typing up said notice, to then handing it in, was oddly one of the most intimidating moments of my life so far.
It really shouldn’t have been much of a difficult choice, I was miserable working there. It was not the path I wanted my career to follow, and I knew that there were better things in store for me. And yet, I was terrified. I kept postponing the decision, convincing myself to give it just “one more try”. But I still came home almost every evening crying my eyes out, and every Sunday I would get palpitations and panic attacks with the sole thought of having to go back into work the following morning.
At first, after resigning, I felt numb. I was told to pack my things and take “garden leave” which basically means that they will pay you for however long your notice is, but you aren’t allowed on the premises unless they contact you. I packed my things and left without so much as a goodbye, it was like I was on autopilot.
Then, I felt overwhelmed, scared, and sad. I told my partner, then my parents and my brother. I held back tears as I aimlessly walked around Belfast City Centre. My eyes kept stinging and my heart kept feeling like it was being twisted by invisible hands. My partner spent the rest of the day trying to cheer me up, and assured me he would cover rent until I found a new job. But I still felt… wrong? Had I made the right choice? Had I been too quick to make a decision? Was I just being foolish? Should I have tried to grow a thicker skin?
Then, it all changed. I woke up the next day with a clear mind, and I felt much better. After processing all the emotions, I realised that this truly was the best choice. I was miserable in that job anyway, and although it probably would have been better to resign knowing I had another role waiting for me, I just couldn’t take the pressure anymore. It was affecting not only my mental health, but also my physical health. The stress of dealing with a job I hated made my autoimmune disease flare up so bad that not even medication could control the symptoms.
I am still on the lookout for something, but this time, I want to make sure that it is the right job for me. I am going to be a little picky, and I am not going to go for the first job that lands in my inbox. And yes, it is scary, and I still worry that I might not find anything, and the economic problems that come with all of this, but I know that I made the right choice. I feel free, and light, and there isn’t a doubt in my mind about this choice.
I guess, what I am trying to say, is that sometimes making decisions can be scary. Sometimes we will second guess ourselves, especially when we are overwhelmed and haven’t had time to process things. But that’s okay. It will be okay.
We should always strive to do what is best for us if we have the chance to, and sometimes doing what is right is the harder choice to make. It’s okay to be scared, and it’s okay to have a little cry and to worry. But you can’t let that fear paralyze you. It might seem a bit crazy now, but in 10, 20, even 30 years from now, you will feel much better for doing what you knew deep down in your heart that was the right choice.