Time to Quit

When you hear the word “quit”, what do you really hear?

Is it a term that is full of derision, disgust, disrespect?

Or it is a word that means more than that?

“Don’t be a quitter!” It seems to be synonymous with “loser”. But perhaps there is more to the meaning of the word than that.

In my most recent alumnae magazine, Smith, I read stories about women whose lives had taken a turn. One young woman turned down a full scholarship for a PhD program in psychology so she could pursue her blossoming career as the member of a punk band. Another eighty-year-old alumna left her church of many years because it was no longer working for her spiritual practice. A third stopped her rat race track toward neuroscience to fulfill another side of herself as a computer programmer.

We all know how hard it is to swim against the tide, but if your heart is shouting at you in the form of ocean-deep discontent, it may be time to listen.

Life offers us many choices. Sometimes we have to take the road less traveled because it is our unique path.

In my experience, however painful it may be to make a decision that is deemed less than popular, we find our true selves, our true calling, the truest  purpose that fulfills us beyond measure.

Although each woman’s story was different, they shared a common feeling of anxiety by staying the course they had originally planned for themselves. Something felt off. They didn’t know why. But they knew something had to change.

So each of them embarked on a personal odyssey to find what was most important to them. They showed courage. And they were happier for it.

Sometimes we have to sacrifice short-term happiness for long-term joy.

“Calling it quits doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake,” says Tracy Glazer Essayan, Class of 1984 (Smith College). “It means the wisdom you’ve gained from all your experiences is suggesting a new direction.”

When you shift directions, you may not “win” in the eyes of society. But your heart will know the difference and, in the end, you will win back the life you were meant to live.

In a recent conversation with an award-winning war correspondent, he assured me that we are living longer than ever so the probability of major life changes is much higher than even a few decades ago when our life expectancy was much shorter.

“Those who keep on their original path may be safer,” he told me, “but I bet you anything they won’t be happier than those who shift with the tides of their calling.”

He has seen forty wars in his lifetime. I believe him.

This is your life. This is your time. How are you going to spend it?

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