Everyone (I think!) has had to quit something at some time or another. Just look at the divorce rate! Jobs! Friendships! Schools! Yes, we mostly all quit something, and most of us “quitters” suffer self-doubts because of it. As the childhood taunt goes, “quitters never prosper.”
I have quit more than a few things in my life, and the self-recriminations have been epic. It is a surprising blow to one’s self-esteem to feel required to quit something. But is quitting a bad thing? The label “quitter” is certainly not one to be envied, but look at people who never quit-bad jobs, marriages, toxic relationships, schools that don’t serve their needs, ad nauseum.
Things I have quit:
- Bad jobs. Having come up working class, I had my share of really lousy jobs. I had waitressing jobs where cooks have chased me with knives, owners have cornered me in walk-in refrigerators, and worse. I left one job, at International House of Pancakes, when at the end of the week I owed them money, for meals I hadn’t eaten (really, who could actually eat that crap). I left a job on the Alaska Pipeline when the foreman would not call me by my name, but called me “split-tail,” and treated me accordingly. Oh, the bad jobs I have seen!
- School. This is the one that haunts me, unreasonably. I did not finish my PhD, as I was going through a divorce, and, I think more-so, because the academic job market and academia itself was changing, and I don’t that that I was suited to that sort of a teaching career. Rationally I don’t regret it, but it does keep me awake at times and comes back to me in my dreams.
- Relationships. I never have quit them when I ought to have. After years of being in a bad marriage, it took my ex-husband to pull the plug. I’ve been in friendships where the other person has treated me poorly, but still I hung on, to the point of ridiculous. But I have also stayed in good relationships through good and bad, and thousands of miles. Included in relationships, of course, is family, and this I have also stuck with, for the most part. I come from a definitively
disfunctionalfucked up family. I have no relationship with 2 of my siblings, by mutual choice, and a fraught one with one sister. We struggle through our extreme differences because, with my closest brother having died, and also my parents, she is the family of origin I have, and vice-versa. I do have a daughter and 2 grandsons, and an ex-son-in-law, and we all manage to stick together.
This posting has been a bit of an exercise in self-redemption. Yes, I have left things and people and jobs, but is it such a bad thing? There is a job I regret having left in Korea, but I gave plenty of notice and left for what I felt were essential personal reasons. I have a few other regrets, but mostly I feel that when I have quit it was because it was time to move on.
The alternative is tenaciously staying and not quitting (quitters never prosper). It is the moral high ground. It shows resolve and strength. Or so they say.