On Quitting

Almost two years ago, we struggled with the possibility of changing churches.  When we moved here in 2008, we did a month or so of dreaded “church shopping” but landed somewhere fairly quickly; in a place that was ideal for that chapter of our lives.  Nine years later, they were undergoing staff changes and things started to feel….not-so-ideal.  Things honestly felt completely off.  Add to this an out-of-nowhere, very extreme moment of bullying that one of my kids experienced, and things were finally officially set in motion.  We were moving on.

Words from a friend, watching from the sidelines, still echo in my head:  “You can’t just leave every time you don’t like something.”

She was seeing a pattern.  Pull son from school (2013).  Pull family from church (2017).  And I was so unsettled, so frustrated about this whole church-thing, that I let those words cover me like a blanket; weighing me down with should’s and ought’s and what’s right and commitment.  I let that set up camp in my head for a good long time.

Now we’re a few years out, and with that distance I feel like I can see more clearly, breathe more freely, and maybe (possibly) judge more fairly.  That, and my husband just quit his job, so quitting is back on my mind.  Some things I’ve considered:

  1. If you are miserable somewhere, why would you not leave?
  2. If a place/thing is no longer working for you, and you have tried different options–unsuccessfully–for making it work, why would you not consider moving on/getting rid of it?
  3. Isn’t the feeling of fear (involved in not knowing the next step) a better feeling than despair/sadness/misery (involved in staying where you are, and continuing to do what you’re doing)?
  4. How long do you have to stay in a situation you hate before you’ve “paid your dues” and can move on free of guilt?  Is that really even necessary?
  5. Isn’t it possible to acknowledge, “I had (x) wonderful years here….now things have changed and it’s time to move on?”  Sunk-cost bias doesn’t always apply in life.
  6. I think, though, most importantly….Do I want to look back over my life and see large swaths of misery when I could have done something to change it?  If this is the only life we get, don’t I want to use it in a better way?

My husband’s job change only partially falls into this situation.  He has an idea and he’s ready to take the leap to start acting on it.  The Best Job in the World–which he pretty much had since 2013 as a work-from-home pharmacist–had been sliding toward a tolerable slog (okay, maybe not so tolerable) for about the past year.  The shift in how he spent his days made it easier to go ahead and quit (see #1).  Now we’re off on a new adventure, because (see #3).

Friends, there are plenty of things we don’t have control over in our lives.  Events large and small happen every day that we can’t do anything about.  Don’t we want to act on the things we can?  

I’m ending this post with the Serenity Prayer.  It applies here more than ever.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

–Reinhold Niebuhr






2 thoughts on “On Quitting

  1. THANK YOU!!!! Now I can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing I couldn’t possibly be the only person who has “quit” something (my job a month ago) over persistent growing unhappiness (“tolerable slog”!) – and although I too had friends and family who thought I was “crazy/rash/etc/etc” and made me doubt myself…..the huge weight lift and sense of relief I felt after making the decision was SO worth it. And yes, the Serenity Prayer is totally applicable to this…..and I appreciate, echo, and totally agree with your reasoning!

  2. That judgement call thing is a bear. I put up and shut up far too long, far too much, partly because I had no belief I could have something better than the worst, which frankly, I thought I deserved. But that was then.Since then, I got diagnosed and did a lot of work, and now I believe I deserve better.

    The underpining of what you’re talking about is “hope” and “faith” and “belief,” for me. It’s a belief that tomorrow or a different situation may be better. It’s faith in your own ability to create that better situation. It’s belief that change could be positive. What you are saying and doing is what this country was based on: hope, building a better future, and knowledge that you’ll do your best. It’s that old-fashioned, romantic idea of who we are as Americans: standing up for what we believe in and willing to risk and work to get it — and believing we will probably be better for it.

    That view is not popular these days. It’s easier to blame “others” for what we have and don’t now. It’s easier to be angry, possessive, and to want to go back into the past — instead of looking to the future as a potential for something good.

    You go girl!

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