I am fairly positive at this point that I am a quitter. It started when I quit smoking cigarettes right after high school.
In 2003, I was in an abusive relationship. My family absolutely loved the guy, but the black eyes and threats on my life rendered it eventually necessary that I quit trying to make it work.
While going to college I worked as a pharmacy technician in a two-bit chop shop of a pharmacy. The majority of the customers were either horribly rude or tragically ill; and every day was nothing less than an emotional gut-buster. The co-workers were even worse, for even the most cut-throat, dog-eat-dog industries in the country looked tame compared to what I witnessed those people do to each other for the four, glorious years of my tenure. I quit in a two week notice (that reduced itself to one day when they gave me a hard time for moving on).
After I first graduated from college, I (a fledgling political science student, still idealist and naïve enough to believe I could, single-handedly, change the world) went to work in political organizing and independent political contracting. For two, long years, I worked countless hours; I sacrificed my family, my friends – all for the sake of the “greater good.” I never took a vacation, there were absolutely no boundaries between work and me – my bosses called me at three o’clock in the morning, and I was there. One day I woke up and realized that the people I worked for were even more corrupt than the people we were fighting against. So I quit.
I now find myself at another impasse. After deciding a career in politics was not what I thought it would be just out of college, I decided to go back to school. I figured if I could not make change in the world by working through the system, I would make change by writing about it – or by teaching; or (in the best scenario), a little of both. For five years I have slaved away. I earned another Bachelor’s degree. I went on to a well-respected graduate program. I started to publish. I started to earn respect in the academic community. I have found myself struggling, at times; coasting, at others.
And now I want to quit.
For after these long, grueling, five years of research, writing papers, sitting through lectures, pulling all-nighters, and (above all) convincing myself that this is really what I wanted to do with my life, I realized that it is perhaps not. “Is this just another one of those times that I am overwhelmed by my work load, and doubting myself unnecessarily? Should I just persevere and trudge on?” I found myself saying out-loud while driving to the library this (very) afternoon. This time it is different, though. This time – unlike other times in the last five years I have thought of giving up at any given, particularly difficult moment (and even unlike other times in my life I have cited above that I have quit) – this time, I feel that I have already severed the ties. And to be honest, as it normally does when I quit something – it feels good.
It seems there is a taboo associated with quitting. Quitting is often thought of as synonymous with other words like “failure” and “lazy.” If someone is a quitter, they are often thought of as unable to do the job; an incompetent, or a loser. In no cases that I have quit, though, have I looked upon it as a personal failure or as a lack of willingness to work hard. Every time I have quit, I have done so on the premise that I was doing so as a means to move on to something bigger; to move on to something better. Looking at it from this perspective, it almost turns the taboo of quitting upside-down, for quitting is the necessary step to make a positive change. Without the big “I quit!” many people would settle for less, live lives they do not want, and end life regretful over what they had not done, for the mere sake of “sticking it out.” They key is that after one quits, one must move on to something new.
So, with that: I quit! I quit on unhealthy interpersonal relationships, like the abusive one I mentioned before; or the negatively-charged part-time job that gave me gas money and movie tickets while going to college. I quit on having no balance in my life, and working for people who have no moral backbone to think of. I quit on settling for something I do not want; and convincing myself that something I do not really want is living. You might say I am a quitter for life.