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iQuit:  Learning when to STOP and when to move on


“[I had the] realization that though I was ready to quit, I didn’t know how. I’d never practiced quitting. I didn’t know the right path out of the room, the right facial expression, the right way to give up.” – Martha Beck


Yesterday, I strolled through the subway tunnel I’ve passed through 100s of times.  The tunnel is connected to the building that housed my first real place of employment.  While walking, I felt someone on my heels, so I turned to look back.  A woman around my age was trying to get around me–so I slowed down and let her pass.  I wasn’t in any rush.


I noticed that she looked just like how I used to look when I trailed that tunnel on a daily.  Surely, she looked like a Carmen-Clone, circa 2004—dressed in a small, lilac pea coat, flat dress shoes, gray trousers and a too-big laptop bag.


I watched Miss Purple Pea Coat retreat hastily up the tunnel.  But, I slowed down to chuckle to myself.  I thought, “darn, that used to be me.”  Scurrying off to no-where [really] in particular to do work that was of no real importance to me.


As I continued to watch her speed off, a thought distracted me.  I wondered,“if I could talk to that 2004 self, who looked like Miss Purple Pea Coat, what would I have told her.”


“Hmm,” I thought.  ”That’s easy.  I would’ve told myself ‘learn to quit.’ And learn to quit with finality.”


I do wis that I had mastered the art of quitting seven years ago.  If so, I would’ve quit quite a few things, sooner, in the ensuing years:

Relationships–when the effort wasn’t reciprocal

Jobs and bad bosses–when the place was toxic and the environment miserable

Friends–when unrealistic expectations out weighed the friendship’s intrinsic value

Other commitments–when they diminished, rather than replenished [even THE good commitments]


Quitting versus Re-Evaluation


Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of not ‘upping and leaving things.’  I stay and marinate waayyyy past expiration dates.  I’ll try to make rocky situations work, if I care enough.  All to my detriment.


That’s the part of my self that I’m un-learning how to be.


That’s the part of my self that’s learning the difference between quitting [moving on if something doesn’t work, feels bad, isn’t reciprocal or only diminishes] versus re-tooling & re-evaluation [which entails working out and through temporary conflicts and rough patches.  Because, let’s face it there will be tons of conflicts and rocky roads].


In the end, I would tell my 2004 self, just like I’m telling my 2011 self–quit things sooner, quit things faster, quit things righter, and quit even when the quitting appears to be illogical–if it’s not going to work in the long run.



Other reading:

Of course, my mentor in my head, Martha Beck had something to say on Quitting:


On the flip, Life Hacker had an article on the Pros/Cons of Finishing


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  1. Tell myself all the time “I suck at quitting.” I just like seeing how things play out… good or bad. Feel like if it’s bad right now then lesson will be waiting for me at the end.

    Dope post Carmelita Jones.

  2. This is real good. This whole quitting concept is something that I too have struggled with for a while. I quit corporate after 1 year…but I didn’t quit caring about what others thought about me quitting corporate until several years later. Folks thought I was gonna be a black female CEO, largely because that’s what I thought I wanted to be and what I told everyone…but it didn’t feel right. So I chose to quit a well-paying job to pursue my dreams of becoming a college president. I got several side eyes…several. But, I quit anyway. And I must admit there is a cost with quitting…but very often the cost is worth it. Here I am quitter…but also a winner! No money…lots of loan…but I have purpose.

    Cheers to the quitters! Good post!

  3. This is so right on on time for me again. I had a sort of aha moment this evening that’s been a long time in the making. I hang on to bad friendships and bad relationships, way past their expiration date. I believe in the idea of people being in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, but its like I have this need to know where they fit or what lesson needs to be learned before I leave. Coincidentally this last time the person is also linked to a job that I stayed in WAY longer than I needed to that redefined what toxic and miserable mean. Reading this and thinking about my situation makes me really look at one question though: why do we not quit sooner? I’m always the one trying to reevaluate and retool, when the truth is that when you’re the only one doing that, you really should be quitting.

    Anyway, thanks for this one.

  4. “I’m always the one trying to reevaluate and retool, when the truth is that when you’re the only one doing that, you really should be quitting.” <– D*mn I do that too. So, no, thank you for that. I agree, if I'm the only one re-tooling and willing to re-evaluate it is def time to dip set. Good thought.

  5. The commentor above asked why we don’t quit sooner…. I think it’s b/c of those side-eyes we get from ppl, eh? But, I wonder is it also something else. In our faux achievement oriented culture we just are not taught to quit. And that is just crippling.

  6. ummmm, Carms, I think you are preaching in my good ear! Lawd knows I need to quit this job (and some other things)! But I’m just too scared to do it…sigh

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