Ruminations

On Quitting

One of my friends doesn't like it because it has affected her directly: when we signed up for an activity together and it turned out to be terrible, I quit but she stuck with it out of a sense of duty. Another of my friends thinks quitting is a sign of failure; because she is seemingly capable of maintaining working 40 hours a week with internships while attending school, she thinks everybody else should be able to do the same. 

The thing is, there is a virtue to quitting. We can all agree that you should quit if the commitment in question puts you in danger. But I will take that further and say you should also quit if you are not growing as a person, or developing important skills, or are unfulfilled in any real way. You should quit, too, if the obligation in question is keeping you from doing the things that make you feel truly joyful. Oh, and quit anything that makes you feel like sleep is a luxury, because sleep is important and without enough of it you slowly start to die. Seriously. 

I quit jobs and committees and volunteer gigs. I stopped volunteering for my residential community's student council last year because there were too many icebreakers. I recently quit a remote internship because they couldn't explain to me what they wanted, so I spent hour after frustrated hour redoing things that I got "wrong."   

(I quit friendships, too, but I'm not certain that's a good thing, and I'm going to save the whole matter for another blog post.) 

The thing is, I kept going, and looking for new experiences and ways to help people and myself. After I quit the job with the incessant ice breakers, I got more involved with my student newspaper. I've been working for them, without the slightest trepidation, for a year now and plan to continue into the forseeable futue. After I quit the remote internship, I applied for a research assistantship at a local hospital, and if I get it (they're notifying applicants this week!), I'll be able to conduct original social science work like I've always wanted. 

My point, I think, is that quitting is different from giving up. Quitting, in fact, might be the trick to moving forward. By not letting myself get bogged down, by quickly moving on from whatever "guilt" I have of letting people down, I keep moving forward and further refine my preferences for work and for life. Quitting has got me to where I am today and where I am today is pretty damn great. 

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