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More Thoughts on Quitting

The idea of quitting books was on my mind this week because not only did I quit a book, but my cousin and I had been talking about a series of lessons I had quit about ten years ago.  She can leyn.  I cannot.  She promised me that I could learn trope.  I reminded her that I had tried and failed.  Like major failed.  Like life changing failed.

I wrote about quitting leyning lessons back in 2006.  It is a post about the first time I openly quit; meaning, I didn’t make an excuse or pretend I was too busy.  I just announced that I couldn’t do it, and moreover, I didn’t feel like trying.  And then I went and helped a bunch of kids become quitters.  That sounds terrible when I put it that way.  Perhaps go and read the post “Quitters Can Win” and then return here to finish this post.

The first time I quit, it was hard.  By now, it’s a well-developed skill.  I quit yoga this year.  And guitar lessons.  And two clubs I was in.  A book club.  Um… probably more things except I can’t remember.  That should perhaps tell you how unimportant these things were overall in my life if I can forget them once I stopped doing them.

I’ve also started a lot of things including two new clubs, a few friendships, a short story project, and two novels.

It turns out that when you drop things that aren’t working and you don’t feel invested in, you have openings for new experiences — ones that may become important, life changing opportunities or ones that may become things that I also quit down the road.

I think we spend too much of life trying to fit our round selves (our well-rounded selves?) into square holes.  Moreover, I think we spend too much of life trying to fit our round partners into square holes and our round children into square holes.  We hold onto too many supposed to be’s and don’t match our expectations to reality.  We expect reality to match our expectations.  I know I am guilty of this a thousand times over.

I sometimes need something as small as dropping a book to remember that there are very good sides to quitting.


On a side note, I loved Persnickety’s term “completist” to describe herself as a book finisher.  I’m going to call myself a “Stopper” instead of a quitter unless someone can come up with something better.


1 Bionic { 03.02.13 at 8:33 am }

Man, is this ever a lesson I need to work on. And I am working on. I felt guilty about dragging my feet and not making a call to start a new activity recently, and eventually I realized it was because that particular new activity — a choir — wasn’t something I wanted to do. I want to be singing in an organized way again, but that particular group felt like a last resort, unlikely to fill in what I am missing. Even deciding not to call felt like quitting and therefore bad, which is ridiculous! It’s a choir no one was counting on me to join, that I decided not to join! Sheesh.

2 connie { 03.02.13 at 8:46 am }

Pick one and put “er” on the end of it
cease, discontinue, lay off, stop, give up, knock off, drop, leave off, sign off, retire, withdraw, pull the plug, close off, shut off , call it a day, step down, resign, vacate, renounce, give up, retire, pull up stakes, depart, leave, beat a retreat, plump out, break camp, decamp,foreswear, relinquish, renounce, disclaim, abandon, chuck up the sponge, drop by the wayside, drop out, fall by the wayside, throw in the towel, throw in.
Personally, I like plugged the plugger, or vacater. Beat a retreaer or foresearer isn’t bad. Disclaimer sounds like a warning sign, chuck up the sponger sounds like a bad virus, or you ate too many sponges. Abandoner sounds too harsh and drop outter sound like you might not be educated. Anyway, hope you find one you like!

3 Ellen { 03.02.13 at 10:12 am }

Ah, I quit a book club this year. I *love* books, and reading, and talking about books and talking about reading. But this book club? Mostly gossip, which is not something I find terribly interesting. It took a long time to quit, because I really, really want to be in a book club. But, not this one.

4 a { 03.02.13 at 10:48 am }

Oooh – I shall be a discontinuer! Sometimes.

I have always been fairly good at leaving things that don’t work behind and moving on. I do have a bunch of projects from which I am taking a break, but I will get back to them. Eventually.

5 Elizabeth { 03.02.13 at 3:56 pm }

this is off topic, but to spin off the adding -er to words motif, my 4yo said to me the other day “Mama stop saying ‘Really?’ You’re NOT a Really-er!”

6 Buttermilk { 03.02.13 at 10:04 pm }

I think it was a Webtalkradio show from Stepfamily Central where I heard this in the past week: For all the times you find yourself saying or thinking you should do something, replace “should” with “could”. Recognize the choice you have in the matter, do what works for you, and own your choices.

7 Mali { 03.02.13 at 11:31 pm }

“I think we spend too much of life trying to fit our round selves (our well-rounded selves?) into square holes. ”

Yes – exactly. I think I’ve done that way too much. Finding the roundness of our selves, and the appropriate round holes, isn’t easy, but I guess the first step is to get ourselves out of those square holes.

8 Catwoman73 { 03.03.13 at 12:49 am }

I quite like relinquisher. It reminds me is knights in shining armor, and damsels in distress… 🙂

This post comes at a good time for me. Hubby and I just ‘quit’ TTC after our fourth miscarriage. Within 24 hours of finding out the baby had passed away, I also decided to ‘quit’ my long hair, and I cut it all off, nice and short. Then I decided it was time to quit denying how much I hate my chosen career, and immediately started looking for ways that I could start moving towards making a change.

I am devastated that we’ve had to quit TTC, and are moving on without ever having our second child. But even through the veil of my grief, I can already see how ‘quitting’ this chapter in my life may lead to some very exciting possibilities. Thanks for the reminder.

9 loribeth { 03.03.13 at 1:44 pm }

I love this, and I loved your 2006 post. I suppose some people see me as a “quitter” because I walked away from infertility treatments. I will always feel sad that we didn’t get to have the family we wanted, but I am not sorry that I walked away from treatment when I did. It was liberating.

I have known parents who agree to let their children quit certain activities… but if, for example, it’s a sport and the parents have already paid fees for their participation for the entire season, they have to stick it out to the end of the season (and then they don’t have to enroll for the next one). I think that’s fair.

10 Pepper { 03.03.13 at 1:58 pm }

Yes! I agree with everyone who says they love this. Because why should life be about forcing yourself to do things you don’t love just to say you did them? Or prove to yourself you did them?
@Catwoman, I am with you and I feel you. We can’t TTC for a 2nd baby so that part of my life had to be relinquished as well. For me, there has been something freeing about knowing that we will never go through that specific experience again, though – that particular hell, so to speak (the pain, the sadness, the grief). I try to focus on that aspect of quitting on my sad days. No, we aren’t TTC but we also aren’t suffering through TTC either. And good for you for relinquishing the other stuff, too – the hair, the career. Here’s to hoping for brighter days ahead!!

11 persnickety { 03.03.13 at 5:08 pm }

Yes- it is so important to recognise both what you are-and what you are not- and to step back from forcing the round peg into the square space.

And while I am non-completist on books, I am still driven to complete my bad baby mojo cross stitch, because I cannot bear to think it remains incomplete. http://persnicketyproject365.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/day-24-superstitious.html

I spent the weekend at a lit con, and one of the authors yesterday was talking about a series she hasn’t finished and probably never will. She walked away (can’t remember why) and even though the last book ends on an unfinished note, she isn’t going to go back any time soon, even though it has just been picked up to be republished in the USA. US readers- Keri Arthur’s Shadow investigators series- it doesn’t have an end point- so FYI if start reading it.

12 Justine { 03.03.13 at 9:59 pm }

Still struggling over here with finishing everything. Basically, I also need to learn to say no. In general. Both to things I haven’t yet started and things I have started and that are no longer important. I’ve gotten better at that, but there’s a nagging feeling of guilt … what about the OTHER people who will be affected by my decision? It’s a lot easier to cease and desist when it’s a book or my own lessons, and more difficult for me when it’s an organization.

I like “discontinuer” … because it’s more descriptive than judgmental. 🙂

13 Heather { 03.04.13 at 10:09 am }

I love your take on this. The pool where I do my lap swims has motivational quotes on the wall for the swim team. One of them is: The problem with quitting is it becomes a habit.
This quote helps me get through the last set of 100yds that I want to do, it helps me get through a lot of my work outs. However, it cannot be applied everywhere. Sometimes, some things, are just not meant to be… mine. Why should I spin my wheels trying to make it mine when I can just stop and move on to something that works? So, I choose not to, I quit when I realize that the book/movie/activity/etc are not for me. I typically do it guilt free, because I have usually moved on to the next ‘thing’ and it’s usually better.

14 Ana { 03.05.13 at 4:03 pm }

Letting go. Letting go of the imagined obligations and guilt. Letting go of the unnecessary or unwanted stuff leaves so much room open for better things. I definitely think its a mid-life, recognizing that time is finite, thing for me. I still struggle with it, but shifting my mindset from “quitting” to “letting go”…though I like some of the other synonyms that have been proposed.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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