if i didn’t have a say in what goes on my tombstone, i bet the word quit would end up on there. but probably not “she just quit living” although, that would be technically true i guess. no, i guess it would be more like “never quit, never gave up”. but it’s weird because on saturday, i sat across the booth from a friend at lunch and straight up said “i am quitting”. i proceeded to unload the five story high pile of baggage about being overwhelmed and being a failure and being not enough and everything layered in between. in fact, every single person that i talked too between saturday and now, nodded along when i spewed about this awful professor and not wanting to write a dissertation anymore. everyone said i was brilliant for wanting to take a break and that it was okay to quit. and i actually thought about it. i actually said to myself that i could let this dream go. i could pass on the chance to do something new, something great. for three days, i sank myself into the reality of quitting mode. i pictured how rewarding it would be to recycle the fifty thousand pages of reading material and shredding the massive textbooks and crumpling up the first fourteen pages of dissertation work. i smiled at the notion of having a life outside of the library and actually watching sunday football. but today, i didn’t quit. i mean, i made the call to my advisor and when she asked me what i needed, i just spilled. i gushed that i was falling apart at the seams and that i couldn’t be a doctoral student anymore and that i was ready to say goodbye to all of it and then before she could say anything, i laughed. she was a little caught off guard. and i said, wait, forget all that. and i spent the next forty minutes talking to my advisor about taking a break. because quitting isn’t in me right now. giving into my anxiety and my stress and my mountain to climb isn’t who i am anymore. fifteen year old me would’ve chucked the deuce a long ass time ago and happily quit. quitting is almost second nature when your moods and anxiety define every step of your journey. it’s almost a given to toss the towel and give everyone who objects the middle finger.
i have wanted to quit so many things in my lifetime, starting with the dreaded ice skating lessons at age nine and sometimes drifting in and out of graduate programs. but quitting isn’t always an option and it’s definitely not always the answer. anxiety swarms in and suffocates and starts to squash anything you’re doing. it takes the air out of your dreams and the wind out of your sails. it puts quit in neon letters in every room of your house. it makes you think you can’t do anything anymore and that everything you’ve built was built from toothpicks and sand; when we all know it’s made of iron, sweat and a whole lot of grit.
our anxiety has roots. well, at least mine does. the roots are like eighty feet long and have tangled themselves deep inside me. they attach at the core and make it hard to break free. they tie us down to feeling like a failure. keep us knotted to the notion that we have to stop; that we have to quit; that we have to give in. anxiety wins a lot in my life. i will stop dead in my tracks and hand the trophy over to my anxieties. but this time, for once, i shoved past and stepped over it and didn’t quit. which means, the next time i won’t quit either. it’s time to take back the quitting. quitting ain’t your mantra anymore. quit letting anxiety win. quit ditching what matters most. quit living in fear. because we are human and failure is natural. but it shouldn’t be what we anchor ourselves to. we are more than what we want to quit. we are more than what we are afraid of. we are bigger than our anxieties and our fears and all the things that are pushing us to give up. don’t give in to the fear. don’t throw everything away just because quitting sounds so easy. because honestly, it was way harder to start in the first place, than it was to quit.
anxiety isn’t going anywhere, well at least not for me anyways. but just because it sticks around, doesn’t mean it gets a throne, a crown and the room to make all the rules. quit giving the power to something that makes you powerless. own your fears. own your insecurities. know what you need. know who to ask for help. don’t quit your passions. don’t throw the towel in on starting a family or saving for a house or moving to a new city or meeting new people or a graduate program or getting bangs or whatever the hell it is that you believe will change you or your life. fear will always try to crush your dreams and drown your flames.
quit listening to fear. it never shuts up anyway.