On Being A Quitter
I began my current job on a humid Tuesday in the final week of August.
Two days in, I wanted to quit.
The work was unlike anything I had done before; I was a public relations major with music industry experience, not a social worker who knew how to navigate the system and communicate with people who didn’t speak English. I was extremely unqualified and overwhelmed by the responsibilities set before me. What had I gotten myself into? How in the world could I do this job for an entire year?
And so, I wanted to quit.
Spoiler: I didn’t quit. I stayed. And now—in this job where I had no prior experience and still feel extremely unqualified for—I love the work that I do, the fact that I have the opportunity to positively impact people’s lives and learn from people whose cultures are so different from my own. I mean this in a non-cheesy, earnest manner: This job has changed me.
But what if I had quit?
Once, I attempted to do Whole 30. I got six hours into my first day and my craving for a mocha was so unusually strong that I caved and bought one. I couldn’t even get through an entire day before I quit.
I hate how easy it is to quit. I hate how often we’re encouraged by society to quit. If something is too hard? If something is making you unhappy? Just quit. It’s the easy way out, the cultural norm. I wrote about this once, this age of easy.
And I do think sometimes quitting is the best option. I spent a year in my first full-time job out of college, and then there came a time to quit this role and move on to different work. Quitting is always a choice, but it shouldn’t always be the choice we make when the going gets tough.
I want to be a writer, and that’s an incredibly scary thing to admit, both to others and to myself. Because writing? That’s hard. The self-discipline of even sitting down to write when you don’t feel up for it is difficult; throw in the desire to make art and then make somewhat of a living off said art? The rational part of my brain panics and starts listing all of the ways this is a horrible, no good, very, very bad idea that I should in no way entertain. I should just quit already and get one of those comfortable cubicle jobs that pays you a salary that you can actually live off with just one job (what are those?!). And I’m not hatin’ on comfortable cubicle jobs or the people who work comfortable cubicle jobs. I respect the hell outta people who honor their God-given skills and find work that allows them to use these skills, regardless of whether that’s in a cubicle or a coffee shop.
But me? I want to be a writer. And, often, I want to quit. Because quitting is easy. And writing is hard. Dreams are hard.
The first week on the job—the week that I was this close to quitting—God kept throwing the word “perseverance” into my face. “She’s a girl who perseveres” is not a sentence I would imagine anyone would say to describe me; I certainly wouldn’t say that to describe me.
But I want to be a girl who perseveres. Not a girl who quits. I don’t want to let doubt and fear convince me that these restless dreams within my soul—these dreams to write words that break others in the ways that words have broken me—are unrealistic, too hard, and that I should just quit already.
I don’t want to be a quitter.
I saw Passenger play at the Ryman last night. I’m not the kind of fan that knows the words to every single song of his, but I’ve seen him twice before—once opening for Ed Sheeran, and once busking on a grey and windy London street—and I enjoy his music. But more than that, I appreciate the honesty in his songwriting and the work he’s put into his art. For years, he’s been busking in city squares, playing bars with a dozen people in attendance, standing outside cafes with an open guitar case and his CDs for sale. And even now as he’s slowly gained a fanbase, he’s only had one song on the radio.
I wonder how many times he’s wanted to quit.
And yet, he hasn’t. He’s persevered.
I think every day—multiple times a day, really—we’re presented with this simple choice: We can quit or we can persevere.
What will I choose today?
What will you choose today?