To Quit Or
Not To Quit
The word “quitter” is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a person who
gives up easily or does not have the courage or determination to finish a task”.
Last year, I quit a sport I had taken up because it wasn’t right for me.
The strange thing was, every time I told anyone I had given it up, I
felt like I had to make excuses. I would talk about my desire to focus
on school or an excess of other commitments; it wasn’t enough for
me to tell the truth and say, “I had a go, and it didn’t make me happy,
so I didn’t keep doing it”.
After this experience, I started to wonder about this vendetta
our society has against quitting. Why do we think of ceasing to do
something as an inherently negative thing?
Some psychologists have suggested that our fear of quitting
dates back to the very origins of the human race; prehistorically,
quitting was a truly terrible survival tactic. The cavemen who
decided that hunting wasn’t for them and that they would really
rather paint didn’t tend to have a very long lifespan. Hence,
humanity evolved from exceptionally stubborn caveman, and the
same mentality of “try, try again” that applied to hunting 40,000
years ago is still being applied to pretty much every aspect of our
lives today, though it remains a fallible ideology. Just as some
might have been better off switching from mammoths to
rabbits if circumstances called for it, so too might us modern-day
humans be better switching to more achievable goals, even if that
means ceasing the pursuit of something else.
Here’s the thing: not everything you will ever begin is something
you are destined to finish or succeed at. Perseverance is key, but it is
not everything. Quitting something doesn’t automatically mean
you’re scared of commitment, lazy or a coward. In fact, deciding to
quit something is often exponentially harder, wiser and braver than
pursing it. Besides, giving yourself the freedom to quit means you’ll
enjoy the things you do keep doing more because you know you’re
doing them because you want to.
I am by no means encouraging you to quit every activity you have
ever had a moment’s doubt about pursuing; what I am doing is
encouraging you to consider
you are still doing all the things
you do. There comes a point when you need to ask yourself whether
you are persisting for the right reasons: Are you doing it because
you want to, or because you don’t want to disappoint someone else?