Winners never quit and quitters never win.
I’m sure we’ve all heard that before, and even tell ourselves (and others) that. It’s actually a good philosophy to follow. Just think of all the things in your life you’ve achieved because you refused to give up and stayed the course.
This positive attitude (for some, even a mantra) gets people places. It may help you to pass a test, win a race, complete a challenge, stop smoking, lose weight…the list of situations where this can help you is endless.
We teach this to our children. See it through, we say. We believe that we’re teaching them a life skill, something that they will need in their lives as adults. Endurance. Perseverance. Dedication. Climb that mountain! Face that challenge!
But I’ve quit a number of times. And been better off for it.
Because there are limits to where all that perseverance is going to get you. Sometimes the mountain is actually too big for you. Sometimes the mountain is an indication that you’re on the wrong path. Sometimes, you climb, and climb, sweating all the way and finally reach the top, to find that what you thought was on the other side isn’t what you were looking for.
I’ve quit a job. And a marriage. And more jobs.
Looking back on the path I have travelled, I see the signposts along the way. The ones I ignored until I was half-way up the mountain – the point at which I, exhausted, decided so far, and no further.
I had ignored the signposts for various reasons – one of them being that mantra. The other big reason is the voice that has been whispering in my ear, as long as I can remember, “What are the people going to say?” This is the question that has kept me submissive and ashamed to do what I wanted to, nearly all of my life.
I don’t CARE what the people are going to say, but the people I love do.
So the voices continue…
How can you quit your job? What about security? What about your family and your responsibilities? Jobs are scarce nowadays…you should be grateful you’ve got one..
How about marriage? You’ve made your bed, now lie in it! There’s no divorce in this family – it’s a sin. Stand by your man…
And on and on it goes, to the point where staying stuck in an unhappy place becomes comfortable. And a comfort zone is not a happy place if you want to move forward or grow.
My story …
A number of years ago, I left my safe government-paid job to work in the Middle East. It seemed like the only option for my family – we needed real money to pay for our twins’ accommodation at university. A teacher’s salary did not go very far anyway, and with this new expense we were facing, there was no way to meet our commitments without going into huge debt that we would be compelled to pay for the next few years and beyond. and so off I flew, sans husband and children.
EVERYTHING went wrong for me. I hated my job. I was not equipped to teach at the level I was posted in and my self-confidence took a huge knock. The kids were awful and had no respect for foreigners. The other teachers were unhelpful. I had countless housing issues, including leaking aircons and other maintenance issues. I got lost while driving – a number of times. When I came home for Christmas, I got stuck at Nairobi airport, on standby for 12 hours, hauling two laptops in my hand luggage, which caused me a shoulder injury which meant I couldn’t lift my arm. When I went back, my luggage was lost in transit, and I was left with only the pair of shoes I was wearing. I even had an accident at my school – a taxi driver reversed into my car!
What was I even doing here?
Luckily I had some good friends who helped me through this time. But eventually, I thought, F*ckit. I’m too old for this shit. It was Thursday, the end of another terrible week. Nearly in tears, I called my husband. I went to my flat, booked a flight home, said goodbye to my friends, and was at home in Cape Town on Saturday night. I stayed on the couch for a month, until somebody called to offer me a job, with good money – enough to keep my kids in their flat.
This crazy decision of mine was shocking to everyone – my poor late father could not understand how I could do something so unprofessional. He was always one for “doing the right thing”. So am I, but Vok Marelize! How much longer was I going to sacrifice myself for money? Surely I was entitled to be happy?
I did the same thing a year ago. I quit my teaching job at what is considered a great school. I had had enough of working really hard and being at the mercy of management, parents, and a curriculum. I love(d) teaching, but it was beginning to impact my health. I made a decision – I chose a better quality of life. I took a leap of faith and started doing my side hustle full-time.
Changing direction…taking the other path
It’s been amazing! My health has improved. I am no longer permanently exhausted. I am free to work when and where I want to. I even went on off-season holidays as I was not tied to a school time-table. Other opportunities for freelance work came to me, and I was able to take them. I would never have been able to take my parents in and care for my dad had I still been teaching full-time. I’m finding time to explore my interests. I am in control of my own life. I’m happy.
I am excited about what this next chapter holds for me.
Quitting is okay, sometimes.
Quitting is a way of letting go of what is not serving you anymore. Sometimes you need to make that choice. You need to listen to your inner voice. When that adage pops into your mind, pushing you further up that dreaded mountain, ask yourself, whose mountain is this anyway? Do I really want to see what’s on top? Was I just dragged along by someone else as a travel companion? Do I really want to be on this trip?
Make your own travel plans. Bon voyage!
Let your light shine!