The Quitting Stigma

What if the stigma surrounding quitting were reconsidered? What if quitting were seen as a positive decision?


photo by Jess Daninhirsch

Though we’re often told that quitting is easy, when we quit for the right reasons, it can be particularly difficult to do so.

Kate Gilliland, Staff Writer

Ever since elementary school, parents and teachers have instilled the idea in us that “winners never quit.” Coincidentally, “Winners Never Quit” happens to be the title of a short story I read in the second grade. 

Needless to say, that lesson is true in some instances — but not all. The concept of teaching children not to quit seems like a good idea in the beginning, but as we get older quitting can be a positive choice.

The theme of never quitting something you start is prominent in that 2nd grade story story, but it creates a negative connotation that isn’t always useful as we grow up. 

The words ‘I quit’ often carry the idea that a person is unreliable and lazy, even though that is not always the case. Sometimes quitting can be beneficial. That might mean quitting a toxic environment that does you no good, or quitting a relationship or friendship that is not working out. 

I can attest that quitting a sport or job with a toxic environment can oftentimes be for the best.

From the ages of four to fourteen, I danced. In the early days it was all I wanted to do, but as I got older, I realized how terrible the studio environment was for me. Dance was supposed to be fun but when I was about twelve years old I no longer looked forward to going to class. The competitive nature of the studio also took its toll. I did not win as much as the other girls so I felt like I was not good enough. On top of that everyone was older, and I was scared to talk to anyone. I still loved to dance and I miss it to this day, but leaving was the best choice at the time. 

So, I quit and replaced it with a sport I enjoy doing, golf. Quitting dance was the first time I had ever taken complete control of my life, and I believe I am stronger because of it. 

It was a scary choice for a fourteen-year-old to make, but I am so grateful I did. Leaving behind something that had been a part of my life for all those years was intense, but it benefited me in the long run. 

Then, earlier this school year, I quit my job. I had worked at an ice cream shop for almost a year, and when school started I had sports, homework, and family commitments. All my free time was going to working a part-time job. I did not have to be as committed to that job as I was, so I put in my two-weeks notice. I was worried my former coworkers would look down on me for quitting, but they were more understanding than I expected them to be.

Sometimes quitting can look different and be unrelated to sports or a job. At the beginning of the school year, the counseling office is filled with students looking to drop classes. 

Sure, it’s quitting, but dropping a difficult class with high amounts of tests and homework that can cause stress can help keep students mentally healthy. The hours that could have been spent on homework and studying can now be spent spending time with friends or being involved in a school club or sport.

People often associate quitting with adolescence and immaturity, but making the tough decision to quit can be a display of maturity and self-awareness, as it shows an understanding of one’s own limitations.

Of course, quitting something whenever there is struggle or when things get tough is not always advisable. Persevering through difficulties in something that you have a passion for is just as honorable as leaving something negative behind.

Yet the stigma around quitting deserves reconsideration. We should honor people who quit for the right reasons, as it’s usually not easy to do so, and be proud of those who leave something behind because it shows they are taking care of themselves.

I am not afraid to say I am a quitter. Quitting has taught me how to make my own choices and stand up for myself. Quitting is an example of taking control of my life and knowing what is best for me.