Yeah, but… we’ve been together for 5 years already…
Yeah, but… I’ve already left 9 years of my life in this industry…
Yeah, but… I’ve been playing piano since I was 3…
Yeah, but… we’ve been friends from the time our mothers were pregnant…
It is so deeply ingrained in our human psyche to measure the value of something in proportion to time that passed since that very thing came into being. We embraced so religiously that system of evaluation that we fail to notice when things start to fall apart, lose their scent and flavour; when friendships become toxic and disgustingly forced; when the career we chose ages ago is sucking all of the juices from our bones, pulling us slowly into addictive and self-destructive behaviours; when our partners cease to show up as they should or even worse - start to cheat, abuse and treat us poorly; when pleasurable hobbies turn into pain-inducing tasks; when our eating habits devoid our bodies of energy instead of doing the opposite… The examples are numberless and once put down, black on white, they seem almost ridiculous.
Why would we do that to ourselves? Why are we staying in situations that do no longer bring us joy and fulfilment and more often than not, provoke us pain, apathy and profound discontent?
I’ll tell you why.
Because quitting is for pussies. Because anything worth having takes time. Because when going gets tough, the tough get going. Because there are lows and highs to anything and after the storm, the sun must appear. Because we have to struggle. We have to suffer, bleed and sweat to be respected, to be valued, to be seen as persistent motherfuckers who do not run away with their tail between their buttcheeks at the first sight of difficulty.
That’s what our society and culture taught us.
And if we never took time to question and test the accuracy of those concepts in real and specific scenarios, they may seem actually quite firm-standing and logical, easy to be integrated and programmed in our humbly developed brains which then start to operate according to these programs, directing our behaviours and reactions through different life situations.
But is quitting really so BAD as we proclaimed it to be?
“Of course it’s not”, you may be replying in your mind at this moment, “quitting cigarettes is good. Or junk food. Or watching porn.”
But that’s not the quitting we’re talking about here.
I mean quitting the “good” stuff, the socially celebrated stuff. Like those 10 years you’ve been waking up at 5am to go to your swimming classes, or 6 years you’ve been dating the neighbour from the street parallel to yours, or those 8 semesters studying civil engineering, 18 months being vegan, 678 euros of singing lessons, 11 years as managing director… Is there a possibility that quitting any of these things might actually be good and serving and how to determine when it is so and when it is actually detrimental to our overall wellbeing?
And what is the difference between quitting and giving up?
Is there any? Or are those two one and the same?
I quit loads of things in these short 24 years I’ve been around this Planet. Almost too many to fit in such a short period of time. Name a sport - I tried it, gave it a year, 3 or 7 and quit. Faculties? Friendships? Boyfriends? Hobbies? Choose a category and I’ll write you a list of my quits within it. I would have probably quit even more things, like switched schools or changed my birth name, if only my parents allowed me to bring forth those ideas to reality at the time. But they didn’t. Luckily? Who knows.
What I was about to say is that I always held a fair amount of shame regarding my, what was slowly but surely developing into, ‘habit of quitting’. I thought of myself, as I heard it being said to me and to people behaving alike, as impersistent, as of someone who lacks self-discipline, quitter, indecisive, unclear, inconsistent, without direction, “someone who changes their mind as the wind blows” - like they say.
Having taken a more attentive look at my “quits” versus the things I saw through to the end, I realised that I actually don’t give up so easily, I can be the hardest-working person in the room and get up hundred times when needed, BUT - and here is the crucial piece of the puzzle - if it is important TO ME, if it is in full alignment with my heart and soul, if it matters and resonates on a deep, intimate level.
If it is something that I was pushed into doing by others or by myself (but motivated by others’ expectations or thinking it will bring me some approval, recognition or ego-boost) there’s a pretty high chance I will give it up pretty early on. Also, there were times when I was really in alignment with a thing and thought I would definitely dedicate it next 3 or 4 years, but… I changed. And we all do. We are in constant change and what resonates and sparks our inner fire at 15 will probably not be the same thing that does when we are 18. Or to some it will. And that's perfectly fine. We are all so unique and different and the sole act of comparing one’s journey in whichever area of life to another’s is useless and at times even detrimental as it makes us believe that if someone we admire does the same job for 20 years, we should do so too; or if someone has a long-term relationship with their highschool honey, it makes ours 10 months romances invaluable and somehow wrong.
That’s exactly why it is so important to stay in tune with our inner guidance and be completely honest with ourselves when things start to feel “off”. Your automatic reaction may be to quit whatever it is as soon as you feel some resistance rising up or it may be the opposite - to notice the resistance and dullness and decide to ignore them without further exploration and question posing, ‘cause you were made believe that that’s how it is “supposed to be” - painful, hard and struggle-inducing. Neither the first nor second option will serve you in a long run - not without the examining what is underneath the resistance.
And here comes the difference between quitting and giving up - at least my understanding and definition of the two. When something’s really important to us and we want to grow and continue on the path of it, it is usually when we are about to uplevel that the resistance appears. That resistance simply shows that we are about to leave our comfort zone and expand, yet there might still be some limiting beliefs we are subconsciously holding onto that make us doubt whether we are really capable of upleveling. We may have the belief that we are not worthy enough or good enough to go to the next level, that we do not have what it takes. The image of us on that upscaled position, once the obstacles at hand are surmounted, excites us and inspires us, but we doubt ourselves and are afraid - so we give up.
Giving up is letting go of what we value, wish for and/or hold important due to our lack of self-confidence, self-worth or any other limiting belief. We want it, yet we talked ourselves into thinking that it is not for us but for someone else. “We don’t have what it takes.”
Quitting, on the other hand, is a willing and conscious decision to let go of what no longer resonates with our heart’s desires, what doesn’t bring us joy and fulfilment and leaves us emotionless or even bitter when imagining ourselves doing that thing or being with that person in few years’ time. When we quit something, we usually don’t look back and think “What might have been if I stayed/continued/pushed through”. We are calm and firm with our decision ‘cause we left something that was no longer in alignment to pursue something else that was pulling us in its direction.
Quitting, therefore, is one of the best things you can do to honour your soul and make the best use of your time and energy while you are here. It benefits you and it benefits everyone else involved, as when we are half-heartedly somewhere nobody benefits and we are lying to ourselves and others, unnecessarily depriving everyone involved of the opportunity to switch direction and find something that is in better alignment and will bring higher feeling-states into their lives.
However, make sure to go through attentive soul-search once faced with the resistance regarding carrying on with anything in order to have the clarity on whether the end-date really approached or you just fell prey to your subconscious limiting beliefs and fear of upleveling.
Lots of love,