Permission to quit: You have it. [Anything worth loving is worth sacrificing for but not everything you sacrifice for is worth loving]

by Charlotte on July 10, 2014 · 48 comments

jellybean2

This happened. JellyBean (4): “Look what I found mom! Now we can be twins! But… where do I buy the thingies that go in them??” (Oh honey, I too need to find the thingies that go in them!)

“Mom, can you tell me the story again of how I was born?” Everyone has a vital need to know their creation story. (No, not your literal creation story. That would be TMI. Unless you’re one of those kids named after the place they were conceived, like my friend Sage. Don’t picture it. Sage brush is ouchy.) I don’t know why I’d never realized the importance of the story before I had kids but they ask on such a regular basis that now I know: Everyone wants to know they were wanted, were loved, were hoped for and dreamed of, before they were born. Even if they weren’t born under such happy circumstance, they still want to know about that electric moment you first locked eyes, held fingers and then how they burped up amniotic fluid all over the both of you. I may be romanticizing it a little — nothing says love like burping — but the truth is that these re-tellings are deeply meaningful to my children.

So the other night, when Son #3 brought me a scrapbook (don’t get too impressed, I just upload a billion pictures to Winkflash, autofill and print) and asked me for the millionth time to tell him about the day he was born, I smiled at him, pulled him on my lap and started from the beginning. (“We didn’t even have a name for you yet because I was 100% sure you were a girl…”) Eventually the other kids wandered in to look at pictures, reminisce (about things they can’t possibly remember, which is hilarious) and ended with me playing lullabies on the piano until they fell asleep. After which I went to bed, happy and guilt-free. It was a beautiful bubble. A Moment.

You guys gave that to me.

Ok, I gave that to me but you guys gave me permission to do it. I didn’t need permission to change one of the biggest things in my life (yes, I just declared this blog to be one of the biggest things in my life – at least it was) but I’ll admit I wanted it. I’ve always wanted other people to tell me what to do, to replace my uncertainty with their solid sureness of the right course. I’ve asked my husband, sister, friends and family members what they thought I should do so many times that I think some of them stopped taking my calls. I’m not much of a risk taker so I wanted someone to write me a permission note to quit. But eventually, last week, I sat down and realized that I didn’t have to make the decision anymore. It had made itself. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Any words but “I’m tired, I love you and I need a break.” wouldn’t come.

And you guys told me it was okay. More than okay.

I’ve spent the last week reading a few of your comments/messages at a time and they all make me cry. I haven’t responded to any of them yet because the response was, frankly, overwhelming. Beautifully overwhelming but still, a lot. But each one of you who reached out to me made me feel so grateful, blessed and happy. Happy tears.

Thank you. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for sharing your lives with me. Thank you.

It made me want to do something for you. Perhaps this isn’t something you need but just in case you’re a little bit like me – an overthinker, an analyzer, a planner, a list maker, a ringmaster – I want to give this back to you: Permission to quit. Sometimes all you need is someone to tell you it’s okay to listen to that little voice inside. So I’m telling you that now – you can quit stuff. It doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, it may even make you a better person.

(If you just asked, “Quit what??” then you probably can stop reading but for everyone who had something pop immediately into their head, something beloved but heavy, this is for you.)

A few weeks ago I was listening to the Freakonomics Podcast when they did a show called “The Upside of Quitting.” Steven Dubner, an economist, said, “ in our zeal to “tough things out,” to keep our nose to the grindstone, in our zeal to win, we underestimate the upside of quitting.” It immediately caught my ear. 

He explained that first you have to understand two economic principles to understand quitting. One is called “sunk cost” and the other is “opportunity cost.” “Sunk cost” is about the past — it’s the time, or money, or sweat equity that you’ve put into something, which makes it hard to abandon. “Opportunity cost” is about the future. It means that for every hour or dollar you spend on one thing, you’re giving up the opportunity to spend that hour or dollar on something else — something that might make your life better. If only you weren’t so worried about the sunk cost. If only you could quit.

Me? I am the queen of sunk costs. I don’t like to quit things. I’ve always equated quitting with failure. But I began to see I was thinking about it well, in a very sunk-cost way. If you don’t quit things that aren’t working, you won’t have room in your life for the things coming that will work.

Steven Levitt, the other host and also an economist, then explained why his motto is “fail fast”:

If I were to say one of the single most important explanations for how I managed to succeed against all odds in the field of economics, it was by being a quitter. That ever since the beginning, my mantra has been “fail quickly.” If I started with a hundred ideas, I’m lucky if two or three of those ideas will ever turn into academic papers. One of my great skills as an economist has been to recognize the need to fail quickly and the willingness to jettison a project as soon as I realize it’s likely to fail.

He adds, unironically, “I’ve failed at everything I’m bad at.”

But the most powerful part of the podcast to me was when they interviewed Eric Greitens, a Navy Seal who talked about the infamous “hell week.” The ones who make it through are Seals but he says there are two types of people who quit: Those who are honest about it and those who make excuses. (I loooove excuses! I have so many!)

Greitens said,

“I don’t think many people want to say to themselves that they’ve quit. At the same time, we’ve all failed in our lives, we’ve all failed at different things in different ways and I think there’s a lot to be said about facing that failure squarely. And the people who I know, who were able to admit, you know, “This isn’t the right for me at this time and I went over and I decided to quit, I decided to ring the bell,” they’re really able to move on from their experience. And I do find that there’s only shame in it if you feel shame.”

There’s no shame in quitting? Really??

Really.

That was a revelation to me.

Of course I’m not telling you (or myself) to run out and quit everything. There is definitely a time when persistence and perseverance are key. And in many cases there are lots of gradations between I QUIT and a lifetime of manic drudgery. But there are also times when it’s important to let go. What we need changes over our lives; what worked before may not always work now. And I think we know it, deep down, when the time for change comes but sometimes we really fight that voice. (At least I do.) So if you’re on the edge about something and it’s weighing your heart down – you have my permission to quit! (Or at least take a step back to regroup, rethink.) You don’t need my permission – you don’t need me or anyone else making the choice for you — but sometimes it is nice to have someone tell you it’s okay.

It is okay. We all quit. You can quit.

I can tell you that I’ve felt ten pounds lighter since my declaration last week (pause for recognition of that irony), severing myself from having to post every day or stick to fitness and be the best! blogger! ever! (pause for more irony). Giving myself the freedom to just write when I want what I want (like now) has been so freeing. I sleep better. I’m happier. I’ve enjoyed the extra time with my kids SO much. I may not win any more blogging awards. I may lose readers (the cardinal sin in writing). But you know what? It was worth it. And I am so so grateful to you guys for helping me see that.

At the end of the show, one of the guests says, “We like suffering for things we love; we like it so much, that if we suffer for something, we will actually decide we must love it” — which makes it that much more important to choose wisely what you’re suffering for. Anything worth loving is worth sacrificing for but not everything you sacrifice for is worth loving. 

I would love LOVE love to hear about a time when you had to quit something and how it worked out for you!

 

 

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Dayna brown July 10, 2014 at 12:37 am

Thank you so much Charlotte! I loved this post so much! You asked for us to share a time when we decided to quit for the “good of it”…here’s mine. I’ve worked non-stop for 20 years. Since I was 16 and working in my dads’ office clear up until now working weekend nights to get grocery $$ and discounts on my kids clothes. By no means is it a good paycheck now, but I’m always home when my kids are awake. But 6 years ago when I was working full time for a Financial company with two kids under 3 years of age at home, I decided enough was enough. I needed to quit. I wasn’t being the mom I wanted to be, or the wife I wanted to be, or the friend I wanted to be. Besides, daycare was taking more than 1/2 my paycheck. I quit. And it was the best decision ever. I am now who I want to be because I quit. Thank you for reminding me!!

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Robin July 10, 2014 at 3:04 am

Charlotte, I have been a little behind and just had to go back and read your “tired” post–I can definitely relate to your story. I like to write about being fit and staying healthy, but our days are so much more complicated than that, and involve parenting, and transitions, and trying to manage it all, and still feel happy w/ourselves. And the more time we need to spend on that, and work (sounds like you are super busy w/freelance too!), it’s hard to come up w/a blog post worth reading all that often, it’s one thing to just post “something” but if you want it to be memorable and really help people, that takes time. I was hoping I could keep up w/others w/writing frequency, but have found it’s just impossible for me. I could only post something every 2-3 weeks. A friend mentioned she thought people who like my writing will get used to my timing rhythm–and for the most part, she was right. I don’t have a huge audience, but those who read, keep coming back and I get that positive feedback that is so therapeutic and rewarding–even if my 2-3 weeks has turned into every month since I started working again part-time. We can only do what we can do….it’s all a matter of expectation, and allowing our exceptions to change to work for us, instead of others. As for quitting? The scariest thing in my life to date was quitting my career-job in 2008, when it was turning toxic, and staying home w/my son. It ended up to be the best thing in the world–not easy–but over time I have grown as a person and realize the job/career doesn’t own you and you shouldn’t feel your identity wrapped up in it. Bravery happened when I learned to transition out of that role and into real life. Good luck with finding your new rhythm! Love your writing so whatever you can muster, I’ll keep reading….

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Leigh Anne July 10, 2014 at 4:54 am

If I’m being perfectly honest, I started reading your blog for the fitness experiments but you’ve survived dozens of blog reader cullings over the years because of posts like this. If you never posted about health/fitness again I would still read. I love your humor and your “realness” (I think I just made that word up which is why it’s in quotations lol). You have that rare ability to make me laugh and cry within the same post. So whether you write once a day or once a year, you will forever remain in my bloglovin :)

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Lisa July 10, 2014 at 6:21 am

like

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Amy July 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Yeah that!

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Susan Helene Gottfried July 10, 2014 at 5:28 am

I have a quitting story for you, but the risk of putting it in a public forum is too great. So you know how to reach me and if you want the story, it’s there for the taking.

Sometimes, quitting makes life harder, but that doesn’t negate one second of the sweetness of the freedom you gain.

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Lisa July 10, 2014 at 6:20 am

As I was reading this I thought, “I can’t think of a single thing that I’ve quit to make things better. Usually quitting meant FAILURE!”. Then when you said you’d love to hear about a time we quit I again thought, “there isn’t anything” and then it popped into my head. Birth is a passion of mine. I was a childbirth educator for 19 years with a goal of becoming a midwife. I taught on Monday nights, which also happened to be the night of the long marching band rehearsals each week during marching season. I have five kids, all five were in marching band. I missed many monday nights. Besides that, it became such a chore to teach. Getting the house clean for the lovely groups of people was a DRAG. Getting ready in general was a DRAG. Once the couples arrived and I’d begin the class, I LOVED teaching, but was very glad when the end of the night came and then began to dread the next monday, even tho teaching had been so fun! When my youngest started marching band, I decided to quit. It was a long process that included more reasons than wanting to be available for monday nights, but I made the decision! I too felt lighter. Do I regret no longer teaching? Not for that season, not at all. Would I go back to it? Maybe, but for now this is where I am..former Bradley Childbirth Educator.

I am glad that you have made your decision. As I said before, I will miss the regular posts, but that is only because I feel such a kinship with you! You are loved, hope you know that!

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Laura P. July 10, 2014 at 6:44 am

One time I quit the doctors office I worked at after only two days. I was a hospital nurse for several years and I knew right away that there was no way that office nursing was my calling. I got criticism from my family for not trying it out for a few months, but I knew without a doubt it was wrong for me. It was the best thing I did.

I also almost quit my church recently. I thought life would be so much lighter and less burdensome to have the heavy obligations of attending and serving in it. I found myself devouring blogs and books that helped support my feelings of wanting to leave the church. But instead, I found out that I needed my religion like a fish needs water. I’m so glad that I didn’t quit and I woke up to what is really beneficial to me.

I appreciate you so much Charlotte. You are a wonderful person. Thank you so much for sharing your talent. But only share it when it feels like it is the right time.

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DW July 10, 2014 at 6:48 am

Your post was a Godsend to me today. Thank you. We are thinking about moving and expecting our first child. I’m such a “sunk cost” person — looking at all the time and energy and money we’ve put into our current house, what I’ve built at my job. But a move could mean more financial freedom for me to go part-time and be closer to our family. I need to retain my brain to be an opportunity cost person and be brave!

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Bernie July 10, 2014 at 6:52 am

As another person commented, I came to your blog for the fitness and health tips, but I stay because I love your writing style, your personal anecdotes, and the emotional response I have to what you’ve had to say that day. Write what you want…I’ll keep reading!

My quitting story involved my first marriage, of nearly 17 years. My first husband was verbally abusive every day and physically abusive on occasion. Honestly, I did what most women do and stayed out of a sense of duty to my marriage and my two children. I refused to be a quitter! That would be a sign of weakness! After a particularly bad argument that turned physical, I finally realized I was hurting my children more than helping them by setting a terrible example of married life for them. I made the decision to quit the marriage and leave. That was nearly 7 years ago. After much healing and self-work, I started dating my best friend. We married a little over 2 years ago and it has been truly magical.

As you said, sometimes we have to get out of our own way, give up crap that isn’t working, and re-prioritize our lives so that the awesome stuff God has planned for us can manifest.

Whatever you decide to do, know that you’ve made a difference to many people and I am certain you will continue to do that as you move forward!!

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Jeni July 10, 2014 at 6:54 am

This is wonderful. Like someone before wrote if you never wrote about fitness/nutrition again I’d still read your blog diligently. You have such a kind heart. Sometimes we need to stop suffering for what we love but I think women particularly have a hard time with this. The more we suffer and sacrifice the more we are showing our love. Love you.

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Cbuffy July 10, 2014 at 7:52 am

SO HAPPY to see you this morning! (grin) I quit. Back story… I don’t like kids. Girls in particular. (I was one of 4 sisters and girls are a total pain. in. the. neck.) So when they called me to be the Acivity Day leader for the girls 8 – 12 my husband started laughing hysterically. I did it. I even enjoyed it. For two. whole. years. And then the well dried up and I hated every single minute. Thinking about it, planning it, executing it (and the girls in my daydreams…) so I asked to be released. (Cardinal Sin!) The earth did not stop spinning. And boy was I happy! I also quit teaching my weekend insurance school. But during my surprise retirement party, my old boss called and BEGGED me to come back (the replacement instructor only lasted 5 hours…) and I caved. But instead of working 29 out of 30 days each month, I now have 2 glorious weekends off each month. And I’m super happy.

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Darwin July 10, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Cbuffy…I don’t believe asking to be released is a cardinal sin. Too often auxiliary leaders (and sometimes even the ward leaders) do not try too very hard to be aware when the time for a change has come…even when God is telling them!

You prayerfully arrive at the conclusion, so you ask, they prayerfully consider…everybody then gets back on the same page.

The worst task I endured church-wise was not a calling, but subbing in primary for a beautiful girl who had an even more beautiful smile and a lovely voice. She was a redhead with freckles and gorgeous eyes and some kind of enchanting mist clouded my brain or I would not have agreed.

I walked into the class.

It was in the kitchen.

They were swinging from the cupboard doors.

The cupboard doors on the cupboards on the wall over the counter.

I survived.

THEN I said an extensive prayer asking (BEGGING) to NEVER be called to serve in the primary.

That prayer was answered.

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Michele July 11, 2014 at 3:18 am

OH, I felt the same way once when I was asked to lead a Cub Scout activity! Boys are rude, dirty, and obnoxious! Every single one of them is!

Okay?

Slamming an entire gender as ‘a total pain in the neck’ is not cool. Maybe you and your sisters were just spoiled little snots.

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Anica July 12, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Calm down. Someone not liking children and saying that girls are pains in the neck isn’t as inflammatory as you’re trying to make it. Also saying that isn’t equivalent to saying every single boy is dirty, rude, and obnoxious.

People are entitled to their opinions, and to someone not fond of children, yes, girls can be pains in the neck. All kids can be, and I’ve certainly called them worse, particularly in my head. :)

I’m pretty sure it was more a slam on children then on females as a whole.

However, having taken it as you have and having been offended, clearly the best way to get across that it wasn’t okay to slam a gender was to slam someone and their family instead. Much better, right?

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Joemama July 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm

We should come to know by now that Michelle only writes inflammatory comments. (I’m fairly sure it’s the same “Michelle” every time.)The best thing would be to ignore them.

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Dad July 10, 2014 at 8:23 am

Good stuff! Thanks!

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Lori July 10, 2014 at 9:11 am

Like everyone else who’s commented, I love your posts and will read whatever you decide to post, if blogging is what you choose to continue to do. I don’t have a good quitting story (unless you consider going back to teaching the same as quitting staying at home) but years ago I discovered how fluid life is –what’s good for me now won’t necessarily be good for me even next year. It liberated from thinking I had to have it all figured out, which is totally my preference (I don’t care for surprises). But since life in no way works like that I’ve learned to go with what works and whittle out what takes needless time and energy away from my family. Still figuring it out though.

Watching my girls grow into preteens in the blink of an eye reminds me how fleeting these years are, how my life will be completely different before I know it. The time to enjoy their childhoods is NOW–good for you for putting your kids first!

(Also, I love your birth story anecdote–I find I need to retell my girls’ stories as much as they need to hear them!)

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Sabrina July 10, 2014 at 9:31 am

Loved this and I’m glad to see your break working out for you. The best thing I ever quit? College!

After my freshman year of college for theatre I decided I wasn’t going back because I didn’t feel it. Over the summer I was convinced (thanks to a late night drunken conversation with friends) that maybe I just didn’t give it enough of a chance. So I went back for a second year. And almost a third. The first week of my junior year I walked out, said eff this noise, and never looked back.

Seven years later I have a degree in communications and a degree in health and human services. I have a great job, a husband I never would have met if I stayed in college out of the area, and an amazing network of friends.

When I first started thinking about leaving theatre school I needed validation. I needed someone to tell me it was the right thing to do and when people didn’t say that, I worried and I caved and I kept going. I think I needed that extra time in school to truly realize it wasn’t for me and have no regrets but it was still tough to pack up everything and move back home with no plan. I was so very lost and very scared. I was half excited about what was next and half scared that my life would never amount to anything. It took a long time to get myself together but I’m happy I walked away. I’m happy that when the rest of the world said STAY IN SCHOOL I said Nope.

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Cbuffy July 11, 2014 at 11:03 am

Wow Sabrina – that’s amazing – took guts to buck the trend and stay in school. So glad you listened to yourself and did what was right for YOU!

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Liz July 10, 2014 at 9:46 am

This reader always has and always will love your writing!

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Jen July 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

Wow. I can’t elaborate right now on the thing I’ve been going back and forth about quitting, but when I read the title of the post I went, “Whoa.” And after reading the post, I just want to say thanks.

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Laura July 10, 2014 at 11:50 am

I dropped out of law school after one year. I realized that I was not going to be happy being a lawyer, and one year of student loans was more than enough, thank you. So I quit. My boyfriend at the time actually helped me to come to my decision by talking about sunk costs. I do not regret my decision at all.

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Jen July 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Hi Charlotte- I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thank you. I SO love your writing- everything is well researched and it makes my inner geek happy. I also love your posts about some of the trials you have been though. I know that sounds like an odd thing to say, but you have been able to put into words so many things that I haven’t… I’ve even referred friends to some of your posts because you explained things so much better than I ever could.

I completely understand you stepping back, but I am glad to hear that you still plan to pop in sometimes :-)

The story about you “reminiscing” with you kiddos and singing to them is absolutely precious. Yay for more moments like that! :-)

As for as quitting something.. I too quit blogging. I love it, but there is just too much life to live right now.. I can always document later ;-)

Jen

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Darwin July 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Whoa! (That’s a word that gives a horse permission to quit.)

It is also an interjection, used as an exclamation of surprise, astonishment, etc. I use it in this sense because I have a hard time with quitting.

The upside is…there are some things I do not start, knowing as I do, my own distaste for quitting.

But…

…when I start something, I am pretty much committed.

I was a virgin until I got married and I was a long time getting married, because I wanted as much in place in a relationship as possible, as much considered as possible.

Because once married I was not going to quit.

My wife was not a virgin, but at least she would know that I would be faithful to her after marriage because I was faithful to her before we even met!

There was a Clark University Study by Denise A. Hines and Emily M. Douglas entitled: “A Closer Look at Men Who Sustain Intimate Terrorism by Women.”

Clark University assistant professor of psychology Denise A. Hines, the lead author/researcher on the Men’s Experiences with Partner Aggression Project, says,

“With every analysis that we do of these data, what is very apparent is how much these
men resemble the women who participate in studies of battered women who go to shelters. The level of violence these men sustain, their reactions to the violence, their reasons for staying, their protectiveness of their children, and their mental health, all very much mirror what we’ve seen in studies of battered women over the past thirty years.”

But I never quit.

She abducted my children, ruined my life and continues to psychologically torture me, but for way too long a time after she left…I was still thinking of ways to “salvage” the relationship.

At some point in time it dawned on me:

“I deserve better.”

“Like…someone who ACTUALLY loves me.”

OH!

I have had many (other people have said WAY the heck TOO many) instances in my life where to quit meant actual death.

If I gave up, then it would LITERALLY be the end.

So I developed off the charts pain tolerance…more pain just meant more determination, which meant of course that I had to be more durable…so I developed off the charts durability.

And endurance.

I can take it all…and keep moving forward.

NOTHING and NO ONE would destroy me…

Except the destructive force that almost succeeded in destroying my life was not the “outside threat” it was the one who had me at my most vulnerable who knew exactly how where and when to hurt me because she knew me the best because she was the one who I trusted the most.

I had to realize that I myself was drinking poison by clinging to my “idea” of her…

…and quit.

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Laura P. July 11, 2014 at 7:46 am

Hugs Darwin.

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Darwin July 11, 2014 at 9:03 am

Hugs are gratefully and graciously accepted, stored, and treasured.

Thank-you Laura P.!

*hugs back*

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Jody - Fit at 56 July 10, 2014 at 8:20 pm

I love this Charlotte & have written & talked about it too… I don’t even call it quitting – I call it – it is not right for me at this time – maybe ever – but doing what is right for me is not quitting, it is knowing when to move on, try something different or knowing plainly what is right for you!!! Simple as that. I am not a fan of all the social media out there that says otherwise – not true!!!!

HUGS!!!!!!!!

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Ruth July 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm

You have no idea how much I needed to hear this today! Thank you, thank you! I nearly wrote a comment on your last post because that also meant so much to me but I had to write one on this post.
I have got to the point with my work situation where I am ready to quit but the actual quitting won’t happen until the end of semester. So there is plenty of time for rethinking and taking back my original decision. But yes, it is time to quit, my husband agrees, I know it, no one else is important in this decision and it was great to hear you say that it’s ok, that there’s no shame.
I will probably come back and read this post several times through the semester just to help me stick to my decision. And it will help. Thank you again.

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Laura P. July 11, 2014 at 7:48 am

I just quit FB! It was making me question my faith, my worth and left me feeling empty and lonely.

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Darwin July 11, 2014 at 9:05 am

*more more more hugs*

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Joemama July 16, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Good one!

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Cavy July 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

This was beautiful! I’m glad you’re taking time for yourself and enjoying it! I’ll miss your posts, though.

Being able to quit is so important. It’s a lesson I’ve gotten better with as I’ve aged. I think the hardest lesson I’ve learned that you mentioned in your post is the two types of people who quit. I used to always make excuses (used to? hah! I think I still do!). The worst was when I quit my job several years ago. I told everyone, even myself, that I was quitting because I wanted to go back to school. In reality, I was quitting because the job was giving me panic attacks. I could barely function at work or outside of it, because I was so nervous about work I just laid in bed with awful stomach pains at home. Then I’d spend half my shift dry heaving over the toilet or laying on the floor in the bathroom in the fetal position.

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Geosomin July 11, 2014 at 10:52 am

This is so very true. :) My husband just finally quit his job of 10 years. It was a long agonizing decision, but in the end, despite the uncertainty, it was the best thing for him. Sometimes you just have to walk away from things that have turned into poison in your life. For me, getting sick has caused me to reevaluate a lot of “thing” that I did as well. When it comes down to it, a lot of them just aren’t that important anymore, and things I didn’t think mattered very much have become much more meaningful. :)

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Laura P. July 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Wow. What a good reminder to us all.

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Anjanette July 11, 2014 at 5:50 pm

We all deserve to take care of ourselves, whatever that means; you provide us readers with content (great content!), so the least we can do is support you! No one can keep up that much momentum for so long a period. You have a family and a whole life outside of this blog that you should be living. Don’t stress about this.

The most recent thing I’ve quit was this – I’m in a book club that focuses on reading ‘classics’ and last year we started reading Moby-Dick, which I’d never read. That sucker is around 550-600 pages, depending on the edition you get – it is looooong. And it’s weird. I’d never heard before about how bizarre and poorly-edited it is, but it is. It was not enjoyable for me to read in the least, but I kept going because I didn’t want to ‘let down’ the group. Well, after complaining during the first 350 pages, having spent so many hours reading it, I finally realized that I hadn’t enjoyed any part of it, and I didn’t actually have to finish it (especially when I heard from other people who had finished it that the ending did NOT make up for how bad the majority of the book was). So I stopped reading it, and I did something enjoyable with the free time that I suddenly had. I don’t regret not finishing it. I have no clue why it’s a classic. Dude needed an editor, seriously. It reads like he got paid by the chapter (there are SO MANY very short chapters) and didn’t have any editor whatsoever. Also he made up a bunch of information about whales that didn’t turn out to be true. Deciding how you live your life is one of the best things you can do as an adult.

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Elaine July 11, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Not that there is anything wrong with quitting, but It isn’t quitting if you have finished what you set out to do.

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Nicholle July 12, 2014 at 12:44 am

Quitting is tricky–if you do it too often, it can become a habit. Having said that, I’m all for quitting. I recently decided to take a break from the gym and some of my fitness activities–the pressure to achieve had become overwhelming and was causing a lot of stress. It’s summer, so I’ve decided to bicycle and garden instead. It’s been a huge relief.
For me, it’s often making a decision that brings the sense of relief–indecision causes me stress. Once I’ve chosen a path–to do or not to do–then things become clear and the stress goes away. I think it’s important to find a quiet space and listen to the still, small voice of your heart–it always seems to speak the truth. I once read somewhere that humans are not just doers, we are deciders, and I think it’s the deciding that often brings peace of mind.

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Anica July 12, 2014 at 10:51 pm

I started writing a comment to your last post, but got distracted by some shiny object and never got to it. So I’ll reply to this one instead. :)

The day you wrote this, I kind of quit my job.

I told my supervisor and the manager of my site (yeah, not the same person, which is as fun as you imagine), that I wasn’t signing my new contract in October, since it would essentially be doubling my work load…for the second time.

It doubled the first time in December, and it hasn’t let up. (At a site run by a different agency, there are 4.5 people doing what I do alone at my job. 4.5!) Unfortunately there’s not much they can do about it, which I think is one reason why I’ve stayed – they aren’t doing it maliciously, there just isn’t money for other staff – but I can’t keep doing it. I can’t work my ass off every week to just tread water and put out fires and be expected to keep everything going; I’m miserable, I’ve been hunting and hoping for another job since at least April, and I can’t take much more of this as it is. I definitely can’t add another site to take care of as well.

Anyway, the rest of the details aren’t important. I told them I would be gone come October, probably sooner, and that was that. They were sad, but it was freeing. I have an end in sight, and it just felt great the whole day.

Last night, however, I was scared shitless. I don’t have a job lined up and I’m giving up a year of paid work for the unknown. I’m thinking about switching careers and don’t know if I’ll like the new one. I just spiraled into this circle and felt so hopeless and scared.

Today was better, but that fear lingers.

I’m about to go to bed and was surprised to see a new post from you in my RSS feed, and then for it being permission to quit, it was kind of kismet.

I needed to quit. I’m scared, but it’s the right thing to do. And I really do appreciate someone telling me it was okay to do it.

It’ll all work out in the the end, right? It always does. ;)

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Joemama July 16, 2014 at 4:40 pm

It will be OK. Take a deep breath. I did just what you did (I was a cake decorator. You’d think that’d be an awesome job and it was, but just not in the toxic workplace I was in) and I’ve never been happier. My workload was immense, if not impossible, and I wasn’t able do my job to the best of my ability because of the time constraints. The owner always wanted more work in less time with no difference in quality. So I quit. No idea what I’d do next. Now I work half as much, make a bit less money in a kind of hum-drum job but am HAPPY! I can enjoy time with my family as a sane person which is something we ALL appreciate.
You’ll be fine. It DOES always work out in the end as long as you keep your head on straight.

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Pubsgal July 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Charlotte, I’ve so enjoyed your blog over the years, even though I don’t comment on blogs in general as much as I used to do. My own blog languishes…I got bored of writing health stuff, but for some reason I’ve kept it open, probably in case I want to write there some more. I guess that’s another, less definitive way of quitting?

I think the hardest type of quitting I’ve done is being the one to initiate a break up, because no matter how much I felt that it was for the best long-term (e.g., better than divorce, especially with children involved, down the road), I still caused a good person pain in the short-term.

Thanks for the wonderful gift of your writing, from the silly to the profound & thought-provoking. I feel like you’ve given me the gift, too, of better understanding people in my life who’ve gone through similar life challenges to yours. I will keep your current blog in my reader, so as to not miss anything you might post in the future, but with zero expectations…if that makes sense! :-) I wish you & your family all the best!

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Courtney July 14, 2014 at 6:46 am

I have the opposite problem of not being able to quit – I most often won’t start something for fear of not being able to get it just right. I’ll dabble my toe in something (like gardening last summer, for example) but the minute I get any indication that it may not work out as I hoped (my broccoli didn’t sprout within the number of days it said it would on the package!) I completely give up. The windows of our old house have been needing a new paint job for several years but I know I’ll never get them just right, so I have never even bothered to start. So no great quitting stories for you, but plenty about how I never got started…

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Colleen July 14, 2014 at 10:16 am

I quit my marriage.

I was sick of being yelled at. I was sick of being belittled. I was terribly sick of walking on eggshells. I was sick of irrationality. I was sick of cleaning up after the destruction. I was sick of buying new lamps, new doors, new dining room tables. I was sick of caring SO MUCH about random material possessions–you shouldn’t have to care so much about those things, because there shouldn’t be a constant threat of destruction to those things. I was sick of dead eyes that can’t even focus for the rage. I was sick of being hit, and kicked, and thrown. I was sick of hitting back, because I didn’t want to be that person. I was sick of constantly trying to prove I was strong enough to handle it. I was sick of being strong enough for me, as well as strong enough for someone who didn’t put in any effort to be strong for himself. I was sick of no self control.

So I quit.

And it got uglier when I quit, and it got scarier when I quit, and I had to be even stronger when I quit. But then, it got quiet. And it got better. And I’ve never been happier.

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Darwin July 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Colleen, I feel like throwing you a parade to celebrate your courage in escaping all of that.

For quitting.

I can relate to most of what you wrote…except I never hit my wife back…because she was a girl. I can totally understand hitting your husband back and also how you didn’t want to be that person.

I am SO glad you were courageous enough to get out of that!

You are stronger than me, because unlike you, I didn’t pull the plug at the time. My abusive ex wife pulled the plug in an ongoing abusive manner. And like with yourself, it got uglier.

Still ugly for my children and myself. Much unresolved as they are still in an abusive situation and authorities look sideways at me and don’t believe a big strong guy like me could be abused.

And the “Indian” is always wrong. (Long standing legal precedent since 1492)

My quitting only came in that I TRULY DO NOT WANT HER BACK. (I have also received grief for that….for giving up on HER…for being a quitter. There is a double standard when it is the woman who is abusive.)

I am SO VERY HAPPY that for you it got quiet. And that it got better. And especially that you’ve never been happier!

If I may *hugs*.

And you sharing your story gives me hope!

This all just leaves one question:

Do you prefer fireworks with your parade?

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Colleen July 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

Thank you, Darwin! I do love fireworks, and I wasn’t able to make it to any for the 4th this year. ;) And I’m so glad you’ve reached a place inside you that you honestly don’t want her back. That push and pull is a struggle in itself! I wish you and your children luck in navigating your path, and I hope you can reach a resolution that brings peace.

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Darwin July 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

Thank-you for your supportive thoughts and hopes for a resolution that bring peace on behalf of myself and my four babies.

It means so very much to me!

Such things are scary-prevalent.

In fact…

Just this past Tuesday (July 15) I heard a horn honking, and dismissed the possibility of a car alarm as it was much too irregular, so I investigated.

A woman was being attacked in a car.

I live on a corner, and the car had turned left off the well-traveled street and parked directly across the side street from me…and the man driving was assaulting the woman and the woman was screaming and honking the horn.

Right in front of my eyes.

Arguably one of the worst places to do that for his purposes.

But a great place for her cries to be answered.

I intervened.

He got arrested.

The whole time he was wondering aloud (VERY loud) why she would do that to him.

The mindset is baffling.

Earlier that evening I prayed to be able to be of service in a meaningful way.

I truly believe God answers prayers…and often through other people.

Which is why I believe that your hope added to ours will make a difference!

Thank-you again.

And again, I rejoice in your escape and I rejoice in your happiness!

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Dr. J July 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Interesting that I would come by now. I think this taking a break from blogging is all over the Internet now more than ever. It’s like the cycle of life, always turning. I feel it some also, having been writing almost as long as you have.

If I can say one thing, wait until 2015 begins before you completely sink the ship! Trust me on this, it’s a leap of faith, Charlotte :-)

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Georgia July 20, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Good on you, Charlotte!
I’ve kinda quit my blog too (though it was never as large or eloquent as this!) and that it has truly helped me get on with the million and one other things that are more important and meaningful to me.
I hope you’ll still pop in from time to time – your blog posts are hands down the most beautifully crafted of all on the intertubes…and I mean that. There have been many occasions where I have literally LOL’d (mostly at work too – awk!) after reading one of your posts.
Thanks for the smiles :)

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