Today, I quit. I had a 20-mile long run scheduled for my next race – the Surf City Marathon – and after the first mile, I knew that there was no way I was going to be able to run for 19 more miles. Besides the fact that I didn’t want to (who really wants to run 20 miles?), I had a strange pain on the bottoms of my feet and I knew that I didn’t have the mental fortitude this morning to power through.
So I quit. Disappointed and more than a little relieved, I jogged the mile back home and headed to the gym. Just because I didn’t do my scheduled run, didn’t mean I was off the hook. I hopped on the spin bike and cranked out an hour workout. Though I am not a fan of cycling, I knew that just because I quit, it didn’t give me permission to give up.
Quitting and giving up are two very different things.
Every day, I scroll through my Instagram feeds and I see inspirational posts about winners never quitting, finishing what you started and fighting through the pain. And while that is all fine and good, I believe that sometimes you HAVE TO QUIT to save yourself. Sometimes it’s far better to walk away. Quitting is not easy to do and most likely, you’ll have to battle your ego before you throw in the towel. Because quitting in a society that celebrates battling through adversity doesn’t feel good. It makes you feel like you’re a failure. But what’s the alternative? Sticking with something that makes you miserable because you feel like you should? Or living in pain and misery because of what others might think? Well f*ck that! (I’m reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck at the moment, so there may be gratuitous usage of the f* bomb in my life). Lay off the Xanax and crying into a bottle of wine and hear me out for a moment.
I’m not afraid to admit that I am a quitter.
I’ve quit many things in my life. Here are a few:
- In the fourth grade, I signed up to play the clarinet with the school band just so I could get out of class for an hour a week. After my grandma paid $250 for a top of the line clarinet for me to practice on, I quit when I got to junior high because I realized that I hated to practice, I wasn’t good at it and being in the school band wasn’t cool.
- After almost 11 years, I quit my marriage. I was done being cheated on and disrespected by someone who I didn’t love or respect anymore.
- I’ve quit a number of jobs in my time for various reasons, but one constant reason is that they made me unhappy or unfulfilled.
- There have been numerous friendships that I’ve quit over the years for a variety of reasons. Some friends were toxic, others were too self-centered and others just brought me down.
- I quit church and walked away from many judgmental, gossipy, and fake people.
[RELATED POST: An Open Letter to My “Fellow” Christians…]
In all the above examples, I felt trapped and I knew in my gut that I needed to walk away. But I didn’t give up and by not giving up, I was able to find a new, better path, learn from my “failures” and find real happiness.
- I quit the clarinet, but in quitting, I discovered my love for singing.
- I quit my marriage, but in quitting, I found self-respect, personal growth, and a new love.
- I quit a few jobs, but in quitting, I found other jobs which gave me new skills and helped me make friends in different networks.
- I quit toxic friends, but in quitting, I found the meaning of true friends that encourage and lift me up.
- I quit church, but in quitting, I’ve come to a deeper understanding of God and spirituality and learned how to be more open-minded and joyful.
As a people pleaser, quitting is not easy. In quitting, I’ve disappointed people, made people angry, and I’ve felt like a failure. But by quitting, I also opened myself up to a ton of new experiences and thought processes that were formerly closed off to me because I spent years trying to please people and “stick it out.” Years of quitting taught me how to better understand my mind and my body, my intuition and myself. It took me a long time to realize that sometimes quitting is the best thing to do, that leaving the current path might be the only way to find your true path, and that quitting just might lead you to exactly what you want and, more importantly, what you need.
On the flip side, sometimes, you shouldn’t quit. Sometimes you may need to stay and fight, but that decision is yours and no one else’s. You have to learn when to quit. No one can (and should) tell you when to quit or not quit. By all means, ask for advice and opinions, but ultimately, listen to your intuition. She is a powerful source. Ultimately, only you know your own history, your own potential, your own boundaries, and your own limits and you know when it’s time to call it a day.
So, am I frustrated that I didn’t complete my run this morning? Yes, of course, I am. Am I mad that I quit? Not in the least. Fighting my mind and body for 20 miles would’ve been a futile effort that could’ve caused injury, further frustration, and ultimately derailed my bigger goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Am I giving up? Hell no. I will get up tomorrow morning just like every other Monday, lace up my shoes, and run. Because even though I quit today, I am not giving up. I will trust in my intuition and keep working at it.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” W.C. Fields
[On a side note: if you want to run the Surf City Marathon with me, use the coupon code SCMHO10 for 10% off the registration fee]