‘Quitting’ is a dirty word. It implies that we’re not strong enough, that we’ve given up, given in, that we’ve stopped caring. But recently I’ve learned that it’s actually one of the most empowering things you can do.
Quitting shows that you know what’s best for yourself, what you won’t stand for anymore, even if the act of quitting might be not be the best decision at the world, timing-wise. If you’re quitting something at an uncertain time in your life, whether it’s a job, a manuscript, a relationship, a friendship, a project, life plans, anything, it makes you all the more stronger for making that decision in a bumpy time. And you can quit the smaller things too! Quit the habits no longer serving you. Quit your own pettiness. Quit being productive if you don’t feel like it. You can quit most things in your life if you have the privilege/safety to. While it certainly shakes things up in our lives, ironically it’s the quitting that makes everything else become clear. That ‘everything’ being what you need the most right now. Like Glennon Doyle quoted on her Instagram: “Quitting is my favourite. Every day I quit. Every single day… Begin and quit! Only way to survive. Embrace quitting as a spiritual practice, loves.”
When I left my job, I was so torn as to whether I could actually leave because I didn’t have another gig or job offer to go to, despite piles of applications I’d sent out. I spent months going back and forth because of this; eventually I decided to just bite the bullet and trust that I would figure things out. One month later, I was back on my feet and pursuing the freelance life I’d been dreaming of for a while and life was pretty sweet. Don’t get me wrong; the process of deciding to leave, actually handing in the notice and leaving in itself were all terrifying prospects, but I knew that it was my time. After the execution itself, it felt so empowering, even if scary. The former both outweighed and outstayed the latter.
More recently, I left another job and went through the same process – but again, it was the right thing for me to do at the time. In anguish over said execution, how it would be received, what colleagues would think (I know, I shouldn’t care), I did it anyway despite all of that egocentric chatter that gets very loud when you take a risk in any context. But after it was done, once more, I felt so much lighter. In quitting, I felt like life was in my hands again and I had the privilege to be able to choose to do anything I wanted (or not).
It applies to creative projects too. Sometimes you try so hard to make something work and no matter how much you believe in its potential, something just isn’t clicking. Round hole, square peg; you just have to surrender to the fact that it just, for whatever reason, isn’t working and quit. In doing so, you automatically give yourself a wealth of new, more exciting, more rewarding, more interesting ideas to explore – like opening a door on a busy street and on the other side is this wonderful meadow with the backdrop of a stunning valley and dramatic snowy mountains. A creative Narnia, if you will. In short, by quitting, you liberate yourself.
Sometimes you have to quit places. Sometimes you’re yearning for a change of scene or your time has simply expired there. It makes me sad to think of me quitting London, because that implies that I don’t want to be there anymore and I’m leaving for good, which isn’t necessarily true. But generally, sometimes we do need to quit our environment, whether that’s leaving a city, moving to a new place, a new country, a new house, a new county, a new planet; wherever. Conversely, you can also quit the idea of constantly moving around and fall in love with putting your roots down, too. Quit what doesn’t feel deeply good to/for you, essentially.
Sometimes you have to quit people. This is the toughest type of quitting, because it seems impossible. This doesn’t have to be in such black or white terms as the phrase suggests, simply a decision to move through your life without them – either at all or in certain contexts. Sometimes, friendships run their course, which is arguably even more sad than romantic breakups. People change as they age, experience various things, grow into/out of themselves and sometimes that won’t always align with you, despite your history. I’ll say it again, but choosing to quit certain people in your life (whether this is active or passive) is one of the hardest things you can do. But, it’s usually in your best interest. Luckily, I haven’t had to experience this much yet.
So many of us say But I don’t know if it’s the right time to quit. By even toying with the idea, you have already decided. The resistance you feel is simply your ego trying to keep you safe in the familiar, even if that familiar place is painful. The other part of you that is yearning for something else, something new, something more, something better, that’s the part you should trust. That’s your Knowing – the wisest part of you that feels like a gentle tugging in the direction of the path you were meant to follow.
So, give yourself permission to quit the damn thing. Even if it’s not the ‘right’ time – consider: when is it ever the right time? Especially if it’s hard. Free yourself of the internal conflict, but make the decision out of a place of love for yourself, rather than a place of hate and pain. It will be hard to choose to do so, but on the other side is the clarity you’ve been needing and deserve to give yourself. Imagine who you would be on the other side. Are they lying on an inflatable doughnut, bobbing on a pool, sipping a margarita in the sun, living their best life? Quite likely.