I quit a job recently.

It was a start-up and the position was over-demanding and underpaying, as start-up jobs often are. To build their empire from dust and glitter, these dreamers need the impossible triangle of fast, good and cheap, and for that they need the unicorns.

I’d been picked as a unicorn.

My boss had stars in her eyes and drove a Mercedes and smoked cigars, while I putted up to work in a 2003 Honda Jazz covered in spider webs and filled with junk that I haven’t had time to deal with.

My car and life and hair have been a mess, because I’ve been too busy running around for her, coming good on her whims and being the outstanding people pleaser that I am.

Her hair was always styled into a cascade of perfect ringlets that looked like they’d taken an hour of coiling and fixing each. I never understood how she kept her lipstick so perfect. The trouble with lipstick and me is, I gnaw my lips.

She’s smart. She creates a vision and gets behind it, and then employs good workers to do the grunt.

Talented people with a bad habit of chronic people pleasing are the perfect start-up hires, because you can exploit them to breaking point yet they will always blame their burn out on their own shortcomings.

And so the smart ones win.

Every time.

They get the talent.

They get the money.

They get the cigars.

They get to keep their lipstick on.

They’re smart.

I wasn’t.

I was just another people pleasing pony with a couple of fancy tricks. The world is full of over-educated privileged kids with inferiority complexes, willing to work for a mound of hay and a meaningless cause in exchange for a little scratch behind the ears.

Oh boy does a unicorn love a good scratch behind the ears.

And so I quit my job. This took much more effort and strength than landing the job. I talked it over with everyone to test the idea against my sanity. I crunched numbers and panicked about life-after-job and gnawed my lips.

And then I quit.

I just quit.

Like this:

“I quit.”

I quit to pursue a path that feels more meaningful to me, if a lot more risky for its lack of income and certainty. That path is writing. That’s why I’ve been blogging again lately. I have time now. Lots of time. Lots of wonderful income-less and semi-terrifying time.

Some of my closest friends thought this was a cause for celebration, and so we drank Prosecco together and toasted to hard decisions.

And I was thinking about how, in general, most people don’t celebrate endings often enough. We celebrate beginnings. We toast to the moment a person enters into a commitment with something or someone they might end up hating soon after the party has gone home, but will never confess to because the presents were so nice and quitting tastes like bitter failure.

We celebrate the elderly couple walking side by side in the park, giving little thought to whether or not they’re a good couple or if they’re just committing out of existential panic and a mutual lack of backbone. We don’t know. We just celebrate.

“Happy beginning of {whatever the fuck this is}!”

“Congratulations on {whatever the hell this means for you and your life}.”

Perhaps we are missing another kind of opportunity to celebrate. Endings. When we walk away from relationships that are bad for us, when we quit jobs that are no good for our souls, when we have the courage to be single or unemployed while whirling in uncertainty until we know what is next… We don’t tend to celebrate that. A lot of people pity it, actually.

But isn’t it so easy to wind up tolerating 20 years in a shitty job or a shitty relationship, enduring like a champion? Isn’t it so easy to just accept, suck up, head down, thumbs up, man/woman up? It must be easy, because I see so many pushing on, staring out of eyeballs lodged in sockets the colour of a dead fish.

What if there was a different kind of tradition around quitting? A party with everyone you love there, and speeches. People would dress in violet, for violet is the colour of self-respect and restored optimism, and they would eat cake with a big Q on top, for Quit.

The room would smell of sunshine, fresh air and flowers, not stagnant defeat from binge watching Master of None in a robe, and nobody’s expression would be fixed into pity and concern for your future, for they would trust in your resourcefulness and determination.

Your best friend would ping a champagne glass with her fork and everyone would go silent, and the friend would say:

“You did the best thing a person can do for themselves in life. You took care of yourself by getting away from something that wasn’t right for you. You shut a door. You burned a bridge. You walked away. That is hard. Harder than beginning, maybe. Harder than enduring, even. It took you believing that you’re worth more than the dull, chronic pain of tolerating, and saving up self-belief like small change until you had enough to leap. Good for you. Today is a happy day and we are so proud of you. Let us all toast to you [quitting your job]/ [leaving that disturbing marriage] / [escaping the clutches of that controlling narcissist] / [pursuing that nagging itch to devote your energy to making the planet better] etc.

Isn’t that worth celebrating? The end of a poorly matched situation? The pursuit of a person’s truth? The deep show of respect for one’s own limited time on earth?

Okay, I see the problem with too much hurrah around exits. We might all end up failing all the time, just for the parties, just for the delicious purple Q cake (it would be white chocolate mud cake, you see). Endurance is important when we must push past an unpleasant spell to reach a better place, and celebrating Quitting might just cultivate a culture rife with commitment issues.

But, still, for the people pleasing ponies it can be hard to walk away from that feeding trough of positive encouragement and financial safety to seek out a more meaningful situation. A little imagined party to celebrate the personal achievement around leaving certain toxic things behind is a nice visual, is it not?

Now, I’m going to clean out my car.

I might even put on some lipstick.

 

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10 Response Comments

  • Brianna  August 22, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks for being so open. You are so talented and such a great writer. I can’t wait to read your next book. People who know how to fail and learn from it will be able to see what really engages them in life. Please keep writing! And PS I just turned down a start up gig last night and was terrified of being used like how you were … I’m now convinced I read this for a reason. It’s ok for us to choose what is right for us…not what pleases others. 🙂

    Reply
  • Louise  August 22, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    I found myself in that same position just over 12 months ago when I took a voluntary redundancy from the newspaper I had barely existed in for the past decade. It was scary, but not once did I wonder if I was doing the right thing. Instead I celebrated my release. It hasn’t always been easy since then, but my soul is so much lighter, and every day I am grateful.

    Reply
  • Jim  August 23, 2017 at 5:02 am

    Just wanted to say I love you despite never meeting you. Does that still qualify as love?? Love your writing, love your humor, your self deprecating honesty, your fearful yet courageous view of the crazy world we are forced to inhabit. It’s getting late here in California, so I’m going to drift off to sleep counting unicorns jumping over fences. G’night!

    Reply
  • Jen  August 23, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    I love your writing Torre. Natalie posted this and I’m glad she did.
    This was me a few years ago… and although there have been some serious struggles, I wouldn’t give up my solopreneur life for anything Life(what you described), ever again.
    I am looking forward to reading more of what you write.
    Cheers from Ottawa, Canada
    Jen

    Reply
  • Nemee  August 23, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    So exciting that you’re pursuing write as your primary career! Also, endings should be celebrated just as much as beginnings (if it’s something you chose to end). Beginnings can only be created in response to an ending, the celebration seems fitting.

    Reply
  • Misha  August 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    I love what you write Torre, I love your authenticity, humour, courage and sense of adventure. I’m just about to leave FB for good, so subscribed to your mailing list so I won’t miss your latest writings!

    Reply
  • Bree  August 23, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Very well put! I’m so familiar with special ponies with low self-esteem. Hilarious and acutely insightful as always, Torre!

    Reply
  • Andrea  August 24, 2017 at 5:52 am

    Just over 6 years ago a left my business of 14 years, my relationship also of 14 years and sold my condo. I celebrated the shit out of that by spending 6 months in Europe and turning 40. Best. Gift. Ever.

    Reply
  • Patricia Sands  August 25, 2017 at 1:14 am

    Agreed … “leaving toxic things behind is a nice visual” … in fact, it’s the best visual. Onward!

    Reply
  • Elesha  September 10, 2017 at 3:17 am

    Thank you for this post Torre!! I’m so happy you are back busting out the blog posts! Ive missed your writing here. I recently quit a soul destroying corporate role (#peoplepleasertothemax) to being my own path (aka total life and financial uncertainty) to do what I love. It’s scary as shit! Elesha 🙂

    Reply

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