Knowing when to quit


It took me the better part of a decade to break up with violin. I’m stubborn, you see. It was kind of like a bad relationship. An abusive one. Where 99% of the time, things were miserable. I hated it. I never practised. I never got better. I derived no joy from it. But that golden 1%, those moments when the music flowed, when the strings were nearly at one with my fingers, when the bow glided across them, rather than being dragged screeching – those were euphoric, and hard to give up.

There are friendships and quasi-friendships that have slid, and that’s okay too. All relationships ebb and flow; the kind of bond you may have had in primary school or high school may not be appropriate 10 years later on in life. And not all relationships are 50/50, but I’m trying to do better at upholding my end of the stick.

I couldn’t have asked for a better job after graduation – it was my dream. Stability, prestige, fabulous coworkers. But the hours… Eventually the balance tipped, and I don’t think I was fully aware of that until after the fact.

I’ll admit, I’ve never been very good at knowing when to quit. Deep inside, throwing in the towel equates to giving up = failure.

Calling it quits. You any good at it?

5 thoughts on “Knowing when to quit

  • Reply Stephanie October 31, 2011 at 18:42

    I like to think of “calling it quits” when the balance tips as prioritizing and being strategic rather than quitting. You’re going to lose something if you don’t bring the balance back.

    I once read once of those demotivational quotes that said, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win. But those who never win and never quit are idiots.”

  • Reply First Gen American November 1, 2011 at 06:48

    Life’s a big juggling act and a lot like chemistry. Usually if you modify a material to have one property, you have to sacrifice another property in return. Rubber is very ductile, but it isn’t very strong. You can add rubber to things to make them more ductile, but along the way, you lose modulus (or strength).

    Careers are often like that too. If you want a challenging position that will stretch you and help you grow, it almost always comes at the cost of long hours and a high stress environment. I went that route for about 10 years and it was good, but now that I have kids, I had to take a different type of job. The price is being bored on occasion, which you have to fill with other things to stimulate the mind.

    I think it’s great that you’re mindful of needing to re-balance already. For me, it took bringing another life into this world before I stepped back and took an honest look at the quality of my life and the need to spend more time with family and friends.

  • Reply krantcents November 1, 2011 at 09:19

    One of my shortcomings is calling it quits. I have a tough time saying to myself I can not succeed. That is what quiting is to me.

  • Reply SP November 1, 2011 at 15:07

    This is so me. But when you finally do quit something that is no longer worth your time, it is so freeing to be able to pursue the next thing

  • Reply Link love (Powered by mini pies and full days) | NZ Muse October 13, 2012 at 12:49

    […] year ago, I talked about how taking the first step toward anything is always the hardest; about knowing when to quit; about worthy friendships and personalising […]

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