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Thoughts About Quitting

Another post about Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick, and, no, you don’t need to have read the book to be able to understand this and have thoughts on the matter. Because today we’re talking about quitting.

Not quitting the book, though that may end up being someone’s answer. Just quitting. In general.

In the same scene in the coffeehouse, the author (remember, it’s a book about a book) asks the main character on page 18: “Don’t you ever feel like you want to quit doing something everyone else makes you feel like you’re supposed to keep doing? Didn’t you ever just simply want to… stop?”

And later: “What do you want to quit more than anything else in the world?”

I was drawn to the word “quit” because it’s very different from the word “stop.” We stop the car, bringing it from movement to non-movement. We don’t quit the car. But when we talk about stopping forward movement; changing direction in our life and stopping movement in one space in order to start movement in another, we call it quitting. Not stopping. Quitting.

Which has negative connotations associated with it. Quit a job. Quit on their marriage. Quit calling. Whereas pain stops. Sadness ceases. Stories conclude. Life ends.

Words matter.

I think those of us experiencing infertility know that. We hear the word “quit” quite often; both in terms of being admonished for stopping trying something and for not stopping trying something. And in both cases, the word “stop” is more accurate. You are stopping doing this so you can do that. Or you are not stopping doing this because it is not the right time to stop.

I can’t think of anything I want to quit, though there are plenty of things I want to stop — that I will stop doing because I always shed a few activities going into summer so we can pick up new ones in the fall. I’m not quitting these things; walking away in a huff. I’m just stepping away so I can try something new.

It’s like I reached a stop sign, I’m pausing, and then I’m going to turn left and start down a new road.

And there are things I want to stop because they don’t serve me in any way: fears, frustrations, and looping thoughts. But even these I want to stop, not quit. Maybe they deserve the word “quit;” but I still think about them in terms of stopping.

Do you want to stop anything?

6 comments

1 Karen { 05.03.17 at 9:28 am }

I think a lot about stopping being so focused on triathlons; I spend a lot of time on a daily basis fitting in my workouts here and there so that I can keep getting better and doing more. Which means that I don’t really have time for new things at this point, and I’ve had to let go of a few things too. Come fall, I’m going to take a bit of a break from it, I think, and focus on a project I’m really excited about.

I have always used the word “stop” as it relates to our fertility treatments, because I felt it wasn’t as final as using the word “quit.” When you quit something, you don’t go back. When you stop, it leaves the door open to revisiting it in the future, should you feel differently or would like to pick it back up again. In order to actually walk away from fertility treatments and family building, I needed to have that little bit of hope that maybe I could change my mind someday. I haven’t – at least with fertility treatments – but knowing I COULD made it easier for me to stop.

2 Denise { 05.03.17 at 10:42 am }

Oh, good topic. Quit vs Stop. What to quit, what to stop. I love this. Thinking all the thoughts now, thanks!

3 Sushigirl { 05.03.17 at 5:29 pm }

There’s something I’ve done for years that’s taken up a lot of time that I want to not spend so much time on. A small part of me keeps wanting to keep on in case I “miss out”, and there are people I’d genuinely miss from the activity, but bigger parts want to either quietly just tone down and drop out or just make a point of saying I’m quitting.

I can’t quite figure it out. I have just been spending more time going to the gym. When I was in the gym someone involved in the thing I’m thinking about quitting saw me and assumed I must be there because of a kids’ thing that was going on rather than the thing I’m thinking about ditching.

I’m getting to the point that I don’t want to keep doing stuff because people expect me to. I might, if I can think of a rational reason, stay involved. But equally, I might make a point of quitting and calling out a few assholes (I’ll cop some flack for this but it might make me feel better) or just fade out.

But the more I find other things to fill the space that the once-rewarding-but-now-far-more-onerous-activity takes, the less mental space I have to worry about it.

4 Sushigirl { 05.03.17 at 5:30 pm }

Sorry, there were far too many “things” going on in my post!

5 Ana { 05.04.17 at 9:01 am }

This is so interesting to me. I also have an aversion to the word “quit”. I don’t even like to say “stop” because it sounds more final. I prefer “pause” or “take a break from” because I like to keep options open and the thought of closing any doors is stressful to me.

6 Amber { 05.16.17 at 4:42 pm }

I love this way of thinking. Stopping vs. quitting.

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