Throwing In the Towel

STOP by MagicSky. Click above for more info
STOP by MagicSky. Click above for more info

Quitting = failure, disloyalty, disappointment

Is that how you feel about quitting?

I’m not even sure where it came from for me. I don’t remember anyone saying it specifically, but somewhere along the way that notion made it into my brain, and I’ve carried it with me into multiple aspects of my life — both big and small. Relationships, jobs, hobbies. I’ve felt guilty — and I’m not kidding about this — to the craft of crochet because I stopped crocheting and got more into knitting. As if crocheting is mourning my absence. Books are the same; an unfinished one taunts me for my lack of loyalty.

It’s ludicrous when I write it down. And yet, I feel it just the same.

The problem with this mentality, on a broad scale, is that it means I must experience guilt about everything I let go of, whether it serves me or not, whether I disappoint people are not. Sure, sometimes when I quit things, I cause inconvenience, even pain, to someone else. But sometimes there’s no harm to anyone, only benefit to me (aka, greater enjoyment from knitting). Yet I still experience guilt.

If I were able to separate out those times where quitting means, Yes! Making more space for good things with no harm to anyone else! and those times where quitting means, This is best for me but might cause pain or inconvenience to others, then I could focus my energies accordingly.

Why waste time beating myself up for a choice that brings me joy and harms no one?

I could talk about discipline and stick-to-it-iveness and the learning that comes from “hanging in there.” But I can’t hold onto everything; neither can you.

And hanging onto something that’s not serving me almost always means that I’m closing off options for something that might be just what I need.

Though the guilt and shame I have around quitting haven’t gone away, I’m learning to work through them, to turn away when I need to.

This is my last post as a regular contributor to Scoutie Girl, and as much as I’ve love writing here, I’m excited to say goodbye. Quitting here means opening more space, time, and energy for the fiction writing practice I’m cultivating.

Saying, no, not any more, to one thing always means saying, yes to something else. Sometimes it means yes to a nap, or an extra hour on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes it means yes to a whole new joy.

What’s not serving you? Quit. I dare you.

9 thoughts on “Throwing In the Towel

  1. I too had this notion that quitting was “negative”. It was something ingrained into me from early childhood and I can honestly say it was guilt based, shame riddled and it is only within the last while that I have come to appreciate fully that letting go of what isn’t working, after having given something a fair opportunity, or by following my instinct & intuition, is the best thing to do. Life is too short to bang your head against a wall…and seriously, how pointless and harmful is that!?

  2. I’ve definitely felt the same. As someone who has trouble finishing things, I’ve had trouble distinguishing between failure to finish (a real problem) and letting go of something that is best let go of. I have a lot of negative feelings wrapped up in all of it.

  3. We’ll miss your posts, Katie. Congrats on making decisions to concentrate more on writing… I too am writing fiction. I’d love to hear about and read what you’re writing. Best wishes, and full speed ahead.

  4. Quitting is awesome. Since we are a creative lot, quitting opens doors wide to throw out the not so useful, the vastly irritating and invites in all those little ideas hustling around in your head. Quit with relish, creatively and do throw a party for yourself. I quit a lucrative 30 year plus pottery business, cuz I could not stand it anymore. The favors for “The Old Lady is Singing” party were soup bowls that said just that. Served soup and had a great time sealing the end of my pottery. My creativity has flourished in the last 3 years.

  5. I completely agree with this. Quitting always seems to open up my life to new possibilities and things that wouldn’t have happened if I kept on chugging along. Best of luck to you! :)

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