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Sometimes It’s Okay To Say ‘I Quit’

In high school I was an award winning, first chair French Horn player. I didn’t want to play professionally, but I was good. I worked hard at it. I had to. I’m tone deaf and the only way for me to hit the right notes was to practice ten times more than everyone else to ensure I hit all the right notes. After my junior year there was a lot of talk about what we were going to do next. The amazing things the band wanted to do.

And I quit.

quit

Sometimes It’s Okay To Say ‘I Quit’

There are few things in life that I look back on with such a sense of relief as the day I officially quit playing my French Horn. I went on to sell my silver, special edition instrument and paid for two years of college with it. I regret nothing, and yet, there were people who argued with me, called me names and insisted that I would be sorry for what I was doing.

I’m pretty sure I cried in relief after quitting band.

You see, we live in a world where quitting isn’t an option. A world where motivational office signs are people’s personal mottos. You have to do or do not, there is no try. Failure isn’t allowed. It doesn’t matter who we are, only what we do. Yoda would love our world.

Do you have any idea how exhausting that is? And I’m not only talking about for kids these days, loaded down with hours of homework and extracurricular activities. Adults are loaded down, too. We have to make it to spin class, hot yoga, coffee with friends, the bowling league, the community service event, our kid’s fundraisers, the family cook-out, our friend’s movie nights, watching the latest Netflix show, catching all the Pokemon, being active in our communities. And yet, we are never doing enough. But when are we supposed to? Is sleeping even allowed anymore?

In my mid-twenties I started playing flat track roller derby. I loved the sense of community. I’d previously been depressed and lonely, without a tribe of my own. Joining roller derby gave me people. I started working out. I watched what I ate. My life was awesome! Three years later, I was on my ninth concussion, I’d had three boxer’s fractures, my right shoulder pops in unnatural ways and my left knee is a great barometer thanks to a couple repeat injuries. Roller derby was no longer fun. A change in management destroyed the community I loved. But…I’d spent so much time and money and effort getting myself into shape, competing and working for the team…

This is what’s called a sunk cost situation. It’s the time, sweat, tears, money–whatever–a person has put into something. It makes it hard for us to pull the plug. It’s what keeps a lot of us involved in friendships, activities and life choices long after we should have let them go.

On the flip side, every practice I went to, every bout I skated in, all those times I knew that I just wanted to be done with roller derby, those were my opportunity cost moments. The things I was continuing to do that were costing me the opportunity to move on. Do something else. Opportunity cost is about the future. It’s the concept that everything you keep on keeping on means you won’t move forward.

Do you know someone who is too talented or too experienced to do the job they’re doing, and yet they don’t look for anything else? The longer that person spends at the same job, when there are others more challenging and rewarding, is an opportunity cost. Digging in, staying on at the job they have been at is literally costing them future rewards.

Eventually I quit playing roller derby. Mostly because, with a boxer’s fracture it made doing my day job difficult. The concussions had taken their toll and I needed medical attention. I took time off to heal, and eventually formerly retired from flat track roller derby. I love the years I spent skating, but I love talking about them in the past tense even more.

Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves, is quit. Be that a hobby, a friendship or a job, there are times when quitting is the answer.