EMPOWERMENT :: Winners Quit



BEING A GOOD QUITTER :: In my last year of university, I was taking one course that made me miserable.  Not enjoying the material, and not enjoying how I presented what I was learning were brand-new feelings and experiences for this knowledge junkie.  I was putting all my energy into this one course and watching my joy diminish in all my other work.  I spoke with my parents about it, about how I was feeling like a failure – in all my academic work – and that’s when my stepmother said, “Be a Good Quitter.  Drop the course.”

My heart stopped.  You mean, no one would think less of me?  No one would judge me?  “No, if it’s dragging you down, get out.  Focus on what you love,” she said.I dropped the course too late for it to not affect my transcript adversely, but quitting gave me room to excel everywhere else. (Getting that F and what I did with it is another story!)

Fast-forward ten years.  I’m working for an amazing company with good pay managing one of their retail locations.  In the first year, I had built up the store from an under-performer to one of their most successful boutiques.  I was a queen in my own little kingdom:  I made decisions and broke sales records that were applauded; designed initiatives that were integrated into the company’s fabric; ran a unique retail environment that had an event space and art gallery as well as a sales floor and used those unique spaces to their full potential hosting events and showcasing local artists and photographers.  My team is intelligent and engaged and I lead them to award-winning status.  So, why after over four years of this success, did I know I had to leave?
It was a slow burn.  I didn’t wake up one morning and say, “That’s it.  I’m out.”  It wasn’t one incident or one disappointment or one person influencing my decision.  It was an accumulation of thoughts and incidents and inspirations. For over four years, I had given my life and soul to the store, its customers, my team, my colleagues and superiors.  Isn’t that what you do when you work at something you love?  And yet, I knew there was more to experience, more to contribute, more to learn in more places with more people than where I was.  I knew that, during those four years, I had accomplished everything I could, grown as much and contributed as much as I could where I was.  I knew it was time to pass the awesomeness I had been instrumental in helping build to the next person who would take it to its next level of awesomeness.
Here are some of the factors, though, that did contribute to my leaving: I took an art class and felt my creativity re-awaken.  I started singing in a choir.  I moved into a house that I’m making into a home with one of my best friends, a woman I’ve known for 30 years and who supported my decision.  Finally, my mom took ill and I thought:  am I going to wait until she’s gone to live the (creative) life I’ve always wanted?  Am I going to stay in a position – regardless of its awesomeness – where I’m not growing anymore?  Am I going to swallow who I am to satisfy everyone around me?
So, without a financial safety net, without a plan, with nothing but trust in myself and my brain and the universe, I gave my notice.  I left my fun, interesting position on a high note.  Because, despite this, there were elements of frustration and how those frustrations were manifesting that I couldn’t ignore:  I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t socializing, I wasn’t creating.  Believe me, I had tried over the past year or two to “change my attitude,” to “develop my hobbies,” to “be kind to yourself.”  I kept cycling back to the thought: there is more to experience, more to contribute, more to learn in more places with more people than where I am. 
I don’t know yet where I’ll land. And that’s okay.  Wherever it is will be full of growth and learning and contributing, just as my last position was because these elements are woven into the fabric of who I am.  For now, I’m writing and painting and creating and singing and spending way more time with my dogs who are still a little confused about why Mom’s home so much.  I have time right now to strengthen my friendships and connections in the communities I love.  And, I’m accepting (again) that being a Good Quitter can only lead to Good Things.
 Tanya MacIntosh, lives and creates in Calgary, AB.  When she’s not writing, singing or painting, she’s out with her two dogs or planning her next humanitarian aid trip to Mexico.



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