Sometimes it's OK to be a quitter
Growing up, it is practically engraved in your mind to persevere, to never give up, and to never quit. In fact, I’m fairly certain that some of those inspirational posters in your elementary school classroom portrayed some variation of (if not explicitly) those exact phrases. I’m here to tell you that sometimes, quitting is more admirable.
Recently, I put in my resignation letter at my first full-time, decent-paying job out of college. Nearly everyone I confided in was against it. They told me to “just stick with it a little longer,” or asked why I would leave something when I was making decent money. They told me I was silly or ungrateful or making a mistake. While I’m not here to bash my former employer in any way, there are a few things you need to know to understand the dilemma I was faced with.
I went into the job with the title of “editor.” However, editing was really not one of my responsibilities. I was only able to let clients know that their press release did not meet our (ever-changing) guidelines, and that they needed to fix the errors. Call me crazy, but I thought an editor’s job WAS to fix those errors and enhance their content. I was working 11-hour days reading upwards of 900 press releases a month, without the ability to make them better, all while answering to rude customers on the phone. I was miserable.
The longer I stayed there, the more drained I became of any positive energy. My personal writing was pushed to the back burner because this job had emptied me of any inspiration or creativity. I would wake up dreading the day ahead of me; and come home and mope around thinking about how much my day had sucked. I know that perspective is a huge part of job satisfaction. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, the deprecation from rude customers, and the inability to create something worthwhile turned my usual glass-half-full attitude into cynical and discouraged. Being around me meant listening to my constant complaints about my job and how unhappy I was. It meant dealing with my daydreams of being an established writer, and hearing about my eagerness and hunger for the days when this would become a reality — even though I was doing nothing to pursue this passion at the time because of the job I despised.
The decision was not easy. Many people might read this and think, “If you were that miserable, why didn’t you leave sooner?” First, there was the money. I was finally making decent money and was able to pay my student loans and car payments on time each month. I could afford to go out to the bar and not only buy my own drinks, but buy my friends drinks as well. Then there was the inevitable “gap” in my employment record.
This seemed to be the reason my family was so against me leaving my job. They were terrified of me making a mistake by leaving, that nobody would want to hire me because I’d have a gap in my employment history. I wasn’t as worried about this, considering I was continuing to freelance, but I felt compelled to stay because of their constant disapproval and apprehension.
I made a pros and cons list, like any sensible adult would when dealing with a life-changing decision (and because it always seemed to work on TV, duh). I prayed for God to give me a sign as to what I should do. I stared at my ceiling all night instead of sleeping, dreading the next day at work while trying to decide if I should leave it behind and take the leap. I was wracked with uncertainty and fear of failure (not to mention the approval of others).
The signs were all there. Each day I noticed things in front of me that all pointed in the direction of leaving to follow my passion — and yet, I was still questioning it. I knew I wanted to leave, but fear stopped me. What a rude little devil, fear is! It can leave you glued to the ground, all because the next step is undefined.
But there comes a point when all you can do is jump. You cannot let fear of the unknown paralyze you into inaction. You must kick fear to the curb and follow your passion. You can’t sacrifice your dream for something less risky, especially if you are unhappy. Life is way too short for you to ever spend your time doing something that doesn’t make you happy. You owe yourself that.
I don’t know what the future holds, but that is the glory of it. Rather than letting the space between where I am and where I aim to be frighten me, I am letting it inspire me instead.
I couldn’t be happier with my decision to quit. It does not mean I gave up; It means I took a leap of faith. It means I developed courage and determination. It means that for once in my life, I listened to my own instincts, rather than doing what someone else wanted me to do. It means I am being true to myself.
Sometimes, it really is OK to be a quitter. Sometimes it is even admirable.
Christina is a bratty 20-something who just can’t seem to figure out whether others are being sarcastic or not. You can follow her on twitter @tinaBUFF where she constantly overthinks her tweets, or read her medley of musings at touchinfinity.wordpress.com.