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When “Quitting” is Powerful and Purposeful

We Don’t Have to Struggle Through It 

There are times when we have choices, but we feel like we have to stick with it, deal with it, stay committed, take it, or whatever. Like we are doing the “moral,” “right,” strong, admirable, or brave thing by sticking with it. (It being whatever challenge or struggle you might be sitting in at the moment.)

These beliefs sometimes cause us to override our needs. They push us to struggle through something we don’t want to do, something that doesn’t serve us, something that doesn’t feel good.

For example, I have forced myself to stay up allllllll night reading everrrrrrrry page I was assigned from my AP Bio textbook, stayed in jobs that are toxic and causing me to be physically and/or mentally ill, pushed myself to take (and finish) 19 credit hours in multiple semesters of college, returned phone calls to people I knew wouldn’t respect my boundaries, and so on.

In these situations, I was holding on to the semi-conscious belief that my worth is tied to my ability to stick it out. Quitting did not seem like a valid option. I believed that I owed someone?!–myself, maybe, but probably other people–my unwavering commitment, or something like that. (See, when you start to unpack it, it falls apart rather quickly.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I can do hard things. You can do hard things. And doing hard things can be empowering, inspiring, and motivating.

We get to decide, though, whether staying committed to a choice is the choice we want to keep making. We get to consider whether sticking with the challenge is helping us be the best versions of ourselves, whether our needs are being met or will be met in the near future, whether we are contributing to the vision we have for our communities, and so on. 

Quitting Isn’t “Wrong” or “Weak”

I have stuck around for some pretty shitty experiences, and, I have certainly learned and grown through some of these experiences too. And, in other situations, I have quit, said no, or walked away because I knew this was the most loving and compassionate thing I could do for myself.

When I was a senior in high school, I quit the soccer team halfway through the season because I wasn’t having fun. I left a recent part-time job because I didn’t feel like my effort and energy were valued. I’ve stopped investing in friendships that haven’t felt joyful and connecting. In these experiences, quitting made me feel strong and brave.

Sometimes, there’s been grief, too, but I think it’s important to note that it’s not only in struggling through something that we can feel accomplished. It’s in taking actions that align with what we need, what we want, what we feel is true in our gut, that we will feel empowered.

A Note:

I recognize that I have positioned situations as having 2 options– staying or leaving, sticking with it or quitting, pushing through or bowing out. There is sooooo much more nuance than that, though. Too much to illustrate in one blog post. So please know that in some situations, we have to stay before we go. Or, we need more time to figure out what is true for us. That is okay and valid too, and YOU are the expert in your own life and experiences. 

Additionally, sometimes we truly don’t have control over our circumstances or situations due to the systems we live in or things that happen to us. This particular article is not really for or about those times. Again, nuance.

Reflecting on Your Choices

I invite you to think about a challenge you are facing. 

If there is something you are pushing yourself through, you might like to consider the following:

  • What are my beliefs about quitting? Pause to consider what you think and feel about the idea of quitting. Just notice what comes up.
  • What do I need? Do I need support? Relief? Variety? Peace? Space? And so on. 
  • What options and/or choices do I have? Be honest with yourself. Put all options on the table.
  • Is there another way I could do this? Again, look at every alternative.
  • Which of these options feels best in my body? Which of these solutions seems to fulfill or align with my needs? Do I have a gut/heart connection to any of these options?

Additionally, this decision-making tool might be helpful to explore!

If there is something you feeling challenged by, but you want to work with it and stick with it, you might like to consider the following:

  • What are my beliefs about quitting? Here, too, pause to consider what you think and feel about the idea of quitting. Just notice what comes up.
  • Staying is an option, too. If you stay, you are making an ongoing choice to stay. 
  • Is there an affirmation that feels supportive? For example: “I am making the choice to keep going” or “I feel empowered in my choice to stick with it.”
  • Is there a purpose or motivation you are in touch with? How can this purpose or motivation be an anchor for you along the way?

Again, it’s not always as simple as “I’m out!” or “I’m in!” So, if you are able, take some time to explore all the options and feel into what you need and want. Then, trust yourself! <3 I would love to hear what else is working for you!

*Photo credit: Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash.

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