Once, I was struggling with whether or not to keep a business going. It wasn’t doing well. It was sucking every last bit of energy from me, so I visited an acquaintance who had recently left a crumbling business he had started to ask for advice.
“Sometimes, the bravest thing to do is quit,” he said.
The advice stung, because he was speaking from experience and because he was essentially telling me to give up and move on.
I did not take his advice for another year, and I regretted it.
Quitting has long been a boogeyman of mine. Growing up, I didn’t get a whole lot of parental support when I broached the topic. Neither my mother or father would countenance it – under almost any circumstance – and both sides of my family would often regale stories of persistence under withering circumstances.
Don’t quit. Keep going. You can turn the corner.
So, I have a long list of things in my life that I kept going, long after they should have been let go.
Businesses. Friendships. Romances.
And for all the efforts that eventually curdled, because I couldn’t dump them by their expiration date, I harbor a secret shame that I Just Didn’t Let Go.
And still, I have a real problem with quitting – and even people I know who quit.
One couple I know experienced a frightening robbery at their business in Chicago. Soon after, they packed up and moved to another, faraway city. He worked remotely, anyway, and they had enough resources so that the move was easy for them.
Their decision shocked and angered me. I felt like they were abandoning my city – our city – just because they had the means, while the rest of us were left here to try and make it better.
But really, it was a perfectly reasonable response on their part. Why not leave town and go somewhere you feel safe?
Some other friends have seriously considered moving out of the United States should Donald Trump win another presidential term.
I’ve struggled with this idea, since it doesn’t seem to me like we’re on the verge of another Kristalnacht, should Trump win. But then I suppose Wehrmacht Germans didn’t think things would go sideways so fast either.
It would seem nice to just get on a plane and find yourself somewhere better, right? I’m not sure that idea is so realistic, but even if it was – what about the quitting?
For me, I’m constantly bothered by what I could be doing to make things better. Why not keep working at it? Why not keep seeking a solution? If not me, then who? I work myself into a lather thinking how much I and my friends, colleagues, compatriots, could be doing to make our world better. Together, committed to a better society we will change things!
But then, sometimes the bravest thing to do is quit.