You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
– Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

I know that citation is not an original literature reference. Still, it fits so many scenarios that it’s perfect to start this rant. Unfortunately, in several areas of our lives — work, friends, relationships, family, hobbies, etc. — it is way too easy to go from hero to villain.

Everyone has friendships that peaked. There are moments when it’s all great, going out, ordinary vacation, shared dinners… Yet, it’s easy to reach a saturation point. When we start seeing the small personal features that we dislike. At this stage, it’s better to keep the distances. We don’t have to be together all the time, all days. Or else, we’ll be villains to each other’s eyes.

With families, it’s the same. We all know the stories of brothers that do not speak with each other or entire families torn apart by random explosive events. Christmas is usually the time for these to happen. Spending 2 or 3 full days with the family starts well — everyone is quite happy to see each other. However, as time goes on, the villains begin to appear, and we can’t stand another lame joke from that aunt. Again, going from hero to villain is only a matter of time.

This is also common in our jobs. When starting in a new place, it’s usually easy to impress and to be impressed. If we put in enough hard work, sooner or later our boss will be happy. By keeping on a consistent effort, we can quickly become a “hero”. Likewise, personal views on your team will be great. Again, this will not last forever. The turnaround can be very fast or very slow, but eventually, things will fall apart. Our co-workers won’t be so great when they start criticising our dear work. Likewise, spend enough time with someone from our job, and we’ll quickly see the cracks beneath their (once immaculate) cover of paint.

Every story has an end. It’s better to finish on a high note than to progress (force?) the narrative so much that it starts to lose quality. Hence, we need to know when to leave. Staying in the same place (not just physical) forever is not a good thing. Lifetime jobs are a thing of the past, everlasting relationships are not eternal, and even family has its moments. Although leaving can be hard, it’s best to go when things are great than to stay too long and harm ourselves, or worse, harm others. Like in gambling addiction, it is imperative to realise that we are on a winning streak and leave.

Looking at our relationships, our job, our daily life… we either die a hero, or we leave long enough to see ourselves become the villain.

Pedro Lopes
Aveiro, Portugal