The following should be acquitted from judgement.
Daily dose: Why you should quit
January 9th, 2014, Published in The Silhouette
I was told that if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right the first time. Otherwise you might find yourself wondering what the hell went wrong with your hands full, your shoelaces tied in knots, and your pants on the ground.
A year and a half ago, I was found myself in such a snafu. Personal circumstances not withstanding, I was struggling with academics, my extracurriculars were demanding and thankless, and I was surviving on a diet of peanut butter sandwiches and coffee. I was miserable. I was depressed. And worst of all, I didn’t admit any of these things.
At the time, I was limping along in The Silhouette as an opinions editor. Having previously worked as a news editor the year prior, I felt I would have a good grounding. I wasn’t green anymore. I was experienced.
The year was going to be different. It had to be: it was my third year. By then, I was supposed to have figured out what I wanted to be, who I was, who I wanted to be and how I would get there. I was told that by then I would have a plan and I’d be happy in achieving it. My successes would be numerous. I’d be loved. I wouldn’t feel alone – there would be hundreds of people cheering me on, not exempting myself.
But as the year picked up, I had my doubts. I was alone, I failed, I had no plans beyond the next morning, and I wasn’t looking forward to even that. Every day, I felt as though I had been kicked in the gut before I got out of bed and every night I felt the same.
There are hundreds of reasons for why this was the case, but none of them are important. To some they may be ancient history lost in the bygone texts and appeals. All that matters is what I did, not what was happening to me, and I’m sorry to say I did very little if anything at all. I let myself get the better of me. For a while, my despondency defined me, and all – my family, my friends, my work, and my academics – suffered as a result.
After sloshing back and forth between ideas reserved for darker days, I wrote the longest sentence in the history of humankind. It consisted of only two words, but it took two weeks to compose. I had to bleed it out. It was: I quit.
For most of my life, I thought quitting was a sign of weakness. In letting go, it was as though one couldn’t handle all aspects of one’s life. Not only were they letting other people down, but they were letting themselves down most of all. No longer were they full individuals; they had excised a part of themselves and a part of who they could be. And in this butchered extraction, in selecting one part of themselves over the others, they poured their blood everywhere.
But this, I have since learned, is false. Eventually all people are worn down and fail. For some, it happens very early in life; for others, it happens when they’re old fogeys and their dentures find themselves on the floor and they try to pick it up and there goes their back and there goes their bowels and there they go, wobbling along with a squish squish to the bathroom.
To quit is not to admit that one is a failure but instead that they have boundaries and they understand them. It is not a sign of weakness but of strength; it says, “I can’t do this now but maybe one day I can.” We won’t necessarily be stronger or smarter or faster when that day comes, but we’ll be us, a person who isn’t limitless but so fabulously limited instead. We won’t be a thin paper bag trying to collect all the groceries on one go. We’ll take multiple trips. We’ll plan accordingly. And if nothing else, that will make us stronger, smarter, faster.
This is why after a year and a half, I’m back here writing once more as the opinions editor. I fought. I lost. And now I am ready to battle again with one word, then another, then one more.