In Defense of the Quitter
Sometimes it isn’t quitting at all, it’s simply letting go
“You’re going to let her quit?” You can’t do that, she’ll be a quitter for the rest of her life.”
She was four years old. She wanted to take ballet (or perhaps it was me that wanted her to take ballet?) Hard to remember, it was so long ago.
But she tried it. She didn’t like it.
She went to several dance lessons and then of course, it was time for the “show everyone how much we’ve learned” recital. She wanted no part of it. She tossed her point shoes and leotard in the trash, and told me flat out “no,” she wasn’t going. (Yes, she was and is headstrong! A fire tiger in Chinese Astrology. And girl fire tigers, as we’ve been told are known to be “disobedient”)
So I let her quit. I figured, she doesn’t like it. Why waste our time, my money, and this was really about her, not me. But one of the other mothers in the league of pink slipper ballet mothers couldn’t quite believe it when I announced that my daughter wouldn’t be a part of the recital, and in fact, wouldn’t be coming back to ballet at all.
“She owes it the rest of the girls. She made a commitment.” Well, obviously this woman and I had a difference of opinion on what commitment meant and what commitment had been made.
People love to tell you not to give up. Not to be a quitter
But what is it about quitting that strikes such a dissonant chord within us? You get labeled a loser, a flake, or irresponsible. But how do you know when you’re being a quitter, or just adopting the Wabi Sabi mantra of “let it go.”
Is life really all about accomplishments and finish lines? Or can life be more of a meandering garden path that stops us in our tracks at every different flower, every shady tree, every creek side bridge? We are allowed to change our minds, change our hearts, and change direction, are we not?
As a person who has many interests and has tried many things, people tend to not take you seriously. We are born into this world with the rules already in place, they’ve been established for a long, long, time and we need to abide by them. At least until we become aware enough, or independent enough (some would call it stubborn enough) to realize that not every societal rule need apply to our life.
I understand the fear people have around quitting a job, a marriage, or dropping out of school in your final semester, and the pressure from others that accompanies it. But if we listen to our heart, our soul, and drown out the voices of all those rule makers, we will know exactly what we need to quit. And one of the first things on the list would be to quit letting those other voices shout louder than our own.
But, for as many things in our life that we should nurture and hang on to, there are just as many that we need to quit.
And some of those things we need to quit doing right now.
- Quit putting pressure on ourselves to make everyone else happy
- Quit wasting so much time on social media
- Quit saying you’re sorry for things you don’t need to be sorry about
- Quit planning for a rainy day and go enjoy the sunny one
- Quit waiting for the right time to start (it doesn’t exist)
- Quit feeling as if we’re just not good enough (most everyone else feels that on some level, too)
- Quit hanging out with people who drain our energy and bring nothing positive to the table
- Quit waiting for life to be perfect. (Hint: It isn’t — but you already are)
- Quit working at a job that you hate (go drive for Uber or Lyft till you find something else)
- Quit thinking someone else is going to save you
- Quit thinking that if you just had more, a new purchase or acquisition, then life would be good
- Quit thinking you don’t already have everything you need to be happy
So go ahead and quit.
Quit every little thing that doesn’t add to your growth, your good health, your happiness and your peace of mind. You’re not a quitter, you’re just letting that shit go.
(Oh, and on a side note, my 4-year-old daughter who is now 30 is one of the most committed people I’ve ever met — never gives up and goes after what she wants. So, that theory, once a quitter, always a quitter, doesn’t hold water in my book!)