Let me start by offering you a quote.
“Quitters never win and winners never quit.” – Vince Lombardi
Sound familiar? We must persevere, push ourselves to the limit, never surrender, show no fear. American culture is saturated with the idea that we must never quit.
But two weeks ago, I did just that. I quit my job. And today is my last day. My replacement has been trained, the manual has been written, my personal belongings have been packed. After eight years (only about six of which were truly miserable) I’m finally done.
The fact is that in this, as in so many other things, American culture is dead wrong. Quitting is good for you. Quitting is how we remake ourselves, our lives, and create joy out of misery, the lotus from the mire.
As you can guess, however, I didn’t flounce. I didn’t throw a tantrum, I didn’t burn bridges. I saved my pennies, I enrolled in school, I made a plan, and I lived on the hope that someday I would finally quit. And then I did. Naturally, my boss was upset and begged me to stay on. Perhaps, had I ever had an inkling of this appreciation at any point in eight years, I would have considered his proposal to work part-time until a suitable replacement could be found and trained. It was hard to turn down the extra money and the appeal of feeling needed and appreciated at last. But in the end I stayed firm and refused.
I also quit Dragon*Con. I had originally planned to attend, but after four years of running myself ragged trying to manage a job, school, and freelance writing, my mind and body are finally showing signs of the stress I’ve been putting them under. I need to recuperate more than I need to attend the convention that stresses me out the most. I was terrified that organizers and friends would be angry with me, but so far everyone has been terribly understanding. They’ll probably never let me sign up for panels at Dragon*Con again, but that is completely understandable, and collateral damage I had to be willing to accept. Some things have to take priority, and my emotional well-being, which has not been a priority in a long, long time, needs some time at the top of the list.
I had also hoped to attend PandoraCon, but that will be off the list as well. I’ll attend GenCon, Context 26, and TeslaCon, and that will be plenty of conventions for the remainder of 2013. I don’t know what 2014 looks like, but I imagine it will be considerably less convention-filled than the past few years. The insides of hotels are all starting to blur together, each event becoming indistinguishable from the next. That’s probably a sign that it’s time to hang up my boots. I don’t intend to retire completely from the convention circuit, but I find myself itching to travel and see something other than conference rooms and patterned carpeting, so I’ll be cutting way back.
I am resigning from Doctor Fantastique’s as well. I have enjoyed my time there, and remain extremely loyal to the editorial staff, who are as fine a group of people to work with as any writer could hope for. Now that I’m officially unemployed, I won’t have time to do any unpaid writing. Believe it or not, my articles for Doc F’s were extremely time-consuming, because I believe that if you’re going to do a thing, you should do it correctly, even if it’s unpaid.
Which might be the source of a lot of my stress, come to think of it.
Sometimes quitting is the best thing one can do for oneself. I challenge you to give up something that is sucking your time, something you’re doing out of obligation or perceived necessity, something that’s making you really miserable, but which you refuse to quit for all the wrong reasons. If you can’t walk away, because you’re stuck at a dead-end job (because, like me, you need health insurance) or in an unhappy marriage or some other complicated situation, then make plans to quit. Give yourself the gift of hope, that most elusive quality that can carry you from day to day.
A year ago, I thought this day would never come. It felt like I would be trapped in my boring, soul-crushing, empty job forever. But now I’m free, and on my way to a career I love, and I have time for socializing and reading and writing again. The investment has paid off, finally. Finally!
And yours will too. Save yourself, quit now!