On Becoming a Professional Quitter
I trust that I have known enough suffering. That I know the difference between suffering and the discomfort of growth.
I have known enough of both to know when I need to go slower and when I have had enough. This knowledge is what has made me a quitter.
I’m a quitter because I trust myself and can distinguish lesson-discomfort from suffering that is unnecessarily painful. And I make my choice.
I put in my notice at work on the 15th. This Friday is my last at work. I quit my job because I was ready to be done suffering in this specific way—it was affecting my growth (I wasn’t growing enough there). I was consistently recoiling from racist microaggressions. I was working within a system that had harmful approaches to the work. I was working alongside people who exercised their power(s) in ways that were a problem. (I’m being nice, read: among other things, my manager literally threatened not to sign my timesheet and accused me aloud of not doing the work after I communicated that I needed a deadline for a project).
Here are a few reasons why I quit this time:
1) I was being used to represent the voices of people denied access to this work that were actually at the center of the work itself (read: doing the work of ‘helping’ poor People of Color as the only POC on staff ((2) in the lowest paid position), without consulting with, meeting or listening to said People of Color). 3) The damned commute (how the hell have people not revolted yet(?!) and why aren’t there any improvements to BART service after all these years?).
I’m a self-taught quitter. No one really taught me how to quit—to respectfully approach my limits and draw the line. I grew up hearing that perseverance and hard work and never giving up were the key to success. But, truth be told, I’ve encountered a lot of shit ripe for quittin’ (from childhood to twentysomething adulthood). I didn’t have a class in school called ‘how to know when enough is enough’ so I didn’t know what was the average suffering. Or when I’d had enough or how close I was to breaking. How much were other people suffering?
I got good at quitting when I was underneath a dentist drill. I was trying to breathe through the pain of cavity filling without having been numbed sufficiently. I had spoken up saying that I could feel what was happening. My dentist had proceeded prepping, saying that the numbing would soon set in. It did not. I have a lot of practice disappearing while bearing pain. I was in the middle of my new practice of noticing pain and doing something about it. The dentist had caught me on a weary day. Very firmly I said (again) with a contraption between my teeth that I was not numb. Once the piece was removed I sat up and looked my dentist in the face and had a very clear talk about pain tolerance and what I was absolutely not going to tolerate that day. I had that talk with my dentist for every gynecologist I’d ever visited who didn’t talk me through a speculum insertion. And every doctor who had given me unsolicited personal advice instead of the medical advice I sought, because I apparently know nothing about myself. I know pain well because so very many people expect that I do not feel it.
Before I started quitting I had a story about suffering that included knowing it was enough when: there was blood, when suffering was done with me, when I had been dismissed, when the job (literally and figuratively) was done. I could teach a master class on leaving my body by the time I was a freshman in college. When I started quitting I built a relationship to pain based in me. I am a human being and require a humane relationship to pain. I mean pain of all kinds (emotional, physical, psychological, etc.) ‘cause they all hurt.
When I quit, I make a decision to make space for myself in a place that is too small—I choose to set myself free.
If it makes me feel small, I quit.
If it does more damage than good, I quit.
If it’s not in-line with my core values, I quit.
If I don’t get to be growing toward being my full self there, I quit.
If my humanity (in all of its beauty and imperfection) is debated, denied, or questioned there, I quit.
When it no longer serves me/I’m not valued/my energy is not valued, I quit.
I quit jobs when I’m not sufficiently compensated for my labor. When I’m talked down to. When I realize that I’m holding on to more of the sweet dream than the sour reality of the situation. When there isn’t room for me to fly. And when, eff’ it, because life is short and that’s enough, dammit.
I’ve quit all kinds of shit: relationships (friendships, partners, etc.), jobs (I’m almost a professional profession quitter), conversations and arguments (I’ll walk right away), ideas, worry, situationships full of stuckness and/or unnecessary lasting uncertainty, relaxed hair, long-term commitments, you name it.
If I’m quitting, odds are, I got myself into something I didn’t sign up for and I changed my mind. I was going to write about the difference between being flakey and being a good quitter but it all boiled down to someone else’s perception and that really is not what’s important to me when I make a decision that better suits my needs, so shrug.
Apparently, to envision a worklife where you are compensated well for your labor, treated how you would like to be treated, acknowledged for your expertise, respected, not tokenized, and challenged healthily to produce work that you are proud of is indicative of very high standards. Welp, so be it. Here’s my letter of resignation:
It is after much deep reflection (and some quiet suffering) that I have made the decision to leave (insert job). It has certainly not been an easy decision to depart from (work I was previously doing).
I have made the decision to leave for several reasons. One of the main reasons I have decided to leave is that I, quite literally, cannot afford to work here. Due to taxes and fees attached to my salary, I am making nearly $20,000 less than my projected annual salary of (not enough). After bills, food and costs of commuting, this is the third consecutive month that I’ve had to dip into very meager savings to pay my rent. This is perhaps the most tender reason because of the nature of the work we do on this team. In addition to this, the severity and frequency of racial microaggressions that have come up have made my experience unpleasant in a way that I did not expect and can no longer endure. These issues combined have begun to take a toll on my physical health, presenting in the forms of chronic tension/ "stress" headaches.
I will finish out the month here on the team and transition out on the last day of March, leaving my work in the best shape possible.
BONUS: My favorite words to say after quitting are “my work here is done.” And I genuinely mean it.
BONUS BONUS: If people don't want you to write about what they've done, they should behave better.