I don’t know about you, but I was taught not to be a quitter.
If I started something I’d better see it through, that was the family motto.
For the longest time this stopped me from starting anything because I was afraid that, if I didn’t like it, I’d be stuck with it. Worse, if I started something and I didn’t finish it, I’d be a quitter.
And I get it.
When you commit to things, it’s important to show up. For example, it would not be wise to create an event, charge people for said event, and then not show up. You made a commitment to be there, people paid to be there, and now you better show up.
Reap what you sow sort of situation.
But I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about how you find your passion and purpose in this world, which, ironically enough, may take a lot of trying new things and quitting them if they don’t work out.
I’m talking about the art of giving up.
You see, there is a difference between showing up because of a commitment, and trying out something and deciding it’s not right for you.
But somewhere down the road, this fine line gets muddled and we forget that trying new things and deciding whether it is or isn’t for us is an important part of growth.
Giving up or quitting is a form of failure. I can’t deny that fact, nor should I have to.
Failure isn’t the enemy.
Failure isn’t a reflection of our worth as human beings.
Failure isn’t more bad than good.
Failure simply means something didn’t work out. The sky isn’t going to crumble atop your head, the world isn’t going to open up and swallow you whole. You just simply have to get back up and try, try again.
You know what was a major failure of mine? Forcing myself to continue to do things I hated just so that I wouldn’t be seen as a quitter—a failure.
If you think about it, I failed at failing.
As I got into my late teens and early twenties, I began to fear trying new things because I was afraid I wouldn’t like it and I’d have to quit, therefore, being seen as a failure.
That is, until one day, when I was twenty six years old, finishing off my almost decade-long bachelor’s degree, working at a retail job that made me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry, living at home with zero plan for the future, and enough anxiety to fuel a small village that I made a choice.
I chose to fail.
I mean, I knew I was a procrastinator, but this took the cake.
I’d spent almost an entire decade so focused on paying my way through school for a degree that I didn’t really feel like I needed—because remember, I’m not a quitter—that I had forgotten to think about exactly what it was that I was going to do after I got this piece of paper signed by a bunch of people I’d never met.
I had six months to figure out what the heck I was going to do after college and I knew, like the precious millennial flower I am (kidding), that I’d wilt if I had to sit in a cubicle all day.
My only option was to try new things and see what stuck, which meant, I had to give myself permission to quit and fail faster.
The freedom to fail, to give up and walk away without fear was life-changing.
Before I knew it, I was creating things I’d always dreamed of. Without fear of quitting, I became unstoppable. Within six months I had the direction and clarity I’d been yearning for since I was a teen. I tried so many new things, many of which I have seen through to completion. Other things, I left on the drawing board and that’s OK. I would have never gotten the clarity I so desperately wanted and needed if I hadn’t first given myself the permission to try things and to quit.
Fast forward to one full year later, my bachelor’s degree sitting in front of me—still have never met the people that signed it—and I’m finding so much purpose in my work. I would have never found this kind of fulfillment had I not had the courage to fail, to give up, and to create again.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I got my degree. I put so much time and effort into getting the degree that I owed it to myself to see it through, but if I hadn’t that’d be ok too.
That being said, I personally wish I could sit myself down at eighteen and tell her to put as much emphasis on trying and failing as getting the degree. Why? Because I have a purpose and I’m so much happier now that I know it’s okay, it’s not a reflection of my worth, if I try new things and give up because they don’t work out.
Now you might be thinking, cool, so I can just give up *insert hobby that lights you up here* because things are getting hard.
Things we want come with their fair share of challenges and resistance too. I want to write but I’m terrified to ever press “submit” or “post”. I’m not going to give up writing and trying though.
In other words, you have to decide which things you’re willing to fight for and give your all too and which ones don’t serve you anymore.
So with that I say, give up, my friends. Don’t be afraid to start something and realize it isn’t for you. The attempt may have failed, but you are not a failure.
We never know how something is going to go until we try. If you need a permission slip to try and then give up so you can make more room for the things in your life that light you up, here it is, I’m handing it over.
Give up, and get on with it.
Fail faster, and fail on!