When you're struggling with a situation, do your friends tell you to "stick it out"?
Stick it out. You'll be glad you did.
How do they know that? Do they have 20/20 vision into the future?
Stick it out. Friends tell you that when you hate your home, when you detest your job, when you are in an unhappy relationship, when you are going out of your mind studying on a course you simply do not understand. They said it to me when I was homesick, feverish, jobless and broke in South East Asia, a few years ago, and wanted to come back home. Quitting is always frowned upon as an irredeemable sign of weakness. If you quit, then you are spineless. Stick things out, and you will rise in everyone's estimation – never mind your standing there all bandaged up and bruised while they give you a congratulatory tap on the back... Before turning their attention to something totally unrelated.
At this point, let me establish the usual caveat. Of course, the importance of sticking things out cannot be questioned if our actions have a direct bearing on others who may be dependent on us. I am not, here, supporting the right to pursue one's own happiness to the detriment of others. However, neither is it my right to judge those who do. I do not know what is in their hearts and minds, nor what private demons might make them unable to cope with their circumstances, and drive them to escape, breaking things and people on their way out. Moreover, there are undoubtedly cases where sticking things out is important to an individual for his or her own personal reasons, which I respect.
What I am querying here, is the necessity to stick things out for the sake of it – for no reason other than the unquestioned conviction that you simply do not quit. Instead, let us question that conviction – and drag it off its plinth.
That is right. You have guessed it. I am a Quitter. My CV resembles the multicoloured diamond pattern on Arlecchino's costume. Would be employers stare at my CV during interviews and ask if I have itchy feet. I quote Dolly Levi, and tell them if you have to live hand to mouth, you might as well be ambidextrous. Depending on whether you like me or not, you could describe me as one with the ability to reinvent myself, or as flaky. The difference lies merely in the spin. I am a Jack at many trades – but master at none. Just call me Figaro.
Joking aside, most of my career fluctuations were thrust upon me, rather than actively chosen by me. Circumstances change because of politics, economics or geography and, sometimes, you just have to acquire a new skill to keep body and soul together. However, I admit, I have walked out of a few situations – professional, personal and geographical when I have felt that neither they nor I were ever going to change and live in harmony. That was my choice.
You have got yourself into a mess. You realise you have made a mistake. That in itself is a blessing – a gift. If you cannot find, or there simply is no way out, then you grin and bear it. You stick it out. However, if you do have that rare luxury of choice, then why not just honour that freedom of choice and walk away? Do you not owe it to all those people who do not share your luck? People who, for various reasons either are not aware of being in the wrong place or – worse – are aware of it but are unable to quit and start anew? Stick it out? Why? To prove to people around you that you are constant? Strong? Reliable? Or to show solidarity for their own fear of change? Rolling stone gathers no moss, that is true. But it certainly becomes polished and smooth in the process of rolling.
You start reading a novel you do not enjoy. Do you read it till the end, on principle, or do you abandon it after a few pages, thus avoiding wasting more time on it? (Only in the past couple of years have I learnt to permit myself not to finish a book.) If you go to the theatre or the cinema and do not like the play or film, do you leave during the interval (or during a scene change, if you are sitting near the exit), or do you feel you might as well see the end? If you order a dish in a restaurant and realise you hate the taste after a couple of mouthfuls, do you leave the rest, or do you say to yourself, "I've paid for it, so I might as well eat it"? The money is already spent. Why add insult to injury by eating the stuff?
Errare humanum est. Everyone knows the first part of the adage. However, how many people remember the full version?
Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum. To err is human, but to continue erring is devilish.