There’s a fine line that you must tread between giving up easily because you don’t want to or know how to go through the struggle, and these words below.
When I was younger, my mom knew of two surefire ways to light a fire under my butt: to say I was being lazy, or to call me a quitter. This was initially a good thing and it is a lesson that everyone should learn: pushing through difficulties when all you want to do is throw in the towel.
Being my incredibly stubborn self though, sometimes I held onto things that weren’t good for me with a death-grip just because I didn’t want to be labeled as a quitter, or to admit that I couldn’t handle something. Then, instead of parting with the situation on good terms, it ended on a sour note because I held onto a purposeless thing far longer than I probably should have.
I first learned this through saying goodbye to my first love in life: skating. It was my everything. It consumed me. As skaters commonly say, this is a sport that you eat, drink, breathe, sleep, and dream. It is 24/7 365 days a year- there is no “off-season,” really. It was my dream to be an Olympic athlete and it was all I knew.
I was home-schooled for a few years for this. I missed out on a lot of “normal” kid experiences for this. My family made unbelievable sacrifices for this. I welcomed pure insanity with open arms, as all serious athletes do, for this. I literally bled and sweat for this. I willingly traded my health and my body for this.
All of those statements played in my head on a non-stop, rotating loop when I was at my breaking point and the first thought of quitting entered my mind. Those statements were repeated, in the form of my coach’s shouts of disbelief when I broke the news to him. This all made my knees buckle and forced me to deeply question myself.
Is this what I really wanted?
Fast-forward two weeks to the moment when I took my bow at a show my partner and I were contracted to do. Under that spotlight, deeply inhaling those Zamboni fumes, that moment happened for the first time. I knew it was my time.
Knowing when to walk away from something so big in your life is an illuminating realization-- and one that scares you beyond your wits. Having understood this feeling pretty early on, it became easy to recognize. It happened again after my first job out of college. It’s not smooth sailing. It usually involves a lot of tears, a breakdown, and a lot of self-questioning, even after the fact. It doesn’t necessarily become easier, but it does start to become clearer when that moment presents itself as time goes on.
Gracefully letting go allows you to look back at something fondly, rather than as a skeleton to bury in the closet. Walking away can allow you to unburden yourself of the thing that weighs you down too much to let you fly. And you should fly if you can. You’ll see things from a whole new perspective.