I hadn't quit; I had adjusted my sails.
|Sailing with Jake on Bonne Vie in March 2014.|
The word "quitting" carries with it a deeply negative connotation. A quitter gives up easily because he or she doesn't have the strength, courage, or determination to keep pushing on and seeing a task through to completion.
I've pushed through to completion so many times in my life -- homework assignments, work projects, personal obligations. There is a time and a place for pushing through. But there is also a time and a place for quitting. In the life I now live, where I don't owe anything to anyone, I find myself quitting a lot.
I quit because I respect myself.
I think of quitting as adjusting sails. Those familiar with sailing know it is not the direction of the wind that determines where a boat travels, but rather how the sails are adjusted. With a downwind force, a sailor simply sets her sails and enjoys the ride. When sailing upwind, a sailor tacks back-and-forth to arrive at the desired destination.
But winds aren't always consistent; they can shift, increase, decease, or die all together. And sometimes other factors affect how a sailor navigates: a problem can arise with a charting tool, a crew member can become ill, or the boat can be dismasted. A sailor constantly adjusts course given the present conditions.
I view sailing as I do my life. As I'm living my life, sometimes the direction in which I'm traveling is straightforward. In this case, I throw up the sails and head a consistent course downwind. If I'm facing a headwind or a challenge, I will likely need to tack back-and-forth to get where I'm going. Sometimes unexpected variables come into play that throw my sail plan entirely out the window -- perhaps a lack of connection with a place or a change in relationship status. Like a sailor, I adjust my course given the conditions of the moment.
There is a saying: "Pessimists complain about the wind. Optimists expect the wind to change. Realists adjust their sails." I am a realist
I've adjusted my sails at many points in my life. Some adjustments have been more dramatic than others -- getting divorced, withdrawing from a PhD program, and leaving the job world, to name a few. Life is too short to be on a course I don't wish to be traversing. I deliberately choose not to squander my precious time and energy on things that aren't bettering my life. I'm comfortable letting sunk costs be sunk and letting bygones be bygones.
'She stood in the storm.
And when the wind did not blow her away,
she adjusted her sails."
~Elizabeth EdwardsAs children, we're taught that winners never quit. How untrue! Winners quit all the time; they just quit for different reasons. They know when to quit the right things at the right times. They respect themselves enough to walk aware from whatever is no longer serving them, making them happy, or growing them.
It's okay to quit, as long as you're adjusting your sails. There is absolutely no value in suffering through something. Suffering doesn't make you a better person; it encourages you to be dishonest with yourself.
Be honest with yourself. Respect yourself. Give yourself permission to make a course correction in your life.