Learning When to Quit

I’ve been a fighter since a young age. In some of my past posts (here and here) I’ve mentioned some of my humorous exploits as a child defending women’s rights against my 5th grade teacher, or fighting to hold my own on my middle school football team.

As my marriage was ending, I was ready to dig my heels in to try to fix things. This was in spite of the fact that my ex- was being an incredible dickhead as things progressed. I was ready to go to counseling, put in the work. The only thing that stopped that was when he said he didn’t want to go to counseling. I knew we would need help to get back on track. If he wasn’t willing to get that help, there was nothing to do but to move out.

But my part in my failing marriage has come to the forefront of my mind in recent days. I was miserable in the marriage too. Things hadn’t been good in a long time. So why didn’t I want to leave? Why did I want to keep fighting for something that just made me miserable?

Why did I want to keep fighting?

I’ve done this in other relationships too. I’ll invest a ton of energy to try to save a relationship that has always been or has become one-sided.

Why do I continue investing in people that don’t want to invest in me?

I know some of it has to do with feeling disconnected from people for most of my life. I’ve craved connection. Until fairly recently, I didn’t care at what cost the connection came. If I fought and fought to keep someone in my life, at least they were in my life.

The fighting hasn’t just been in regards to relationships though. It’s also revolved around standing up for myself, and perhaps, having something to prove. But the question is the same:

When do you quit fighting?
When is it time to stop?
When is it not worth it anymore?

I’ve had a battle going on at work since the beginning of the semester. I’ve been standing up for myself, fighting for myself, since the beginning of the semester. It has been an exhausting emotional roller coaster. I’ve had alternating bouts of self-doubt, complemented by moments of confidence and validation. Largely these latter moments followed conversations with those who supported me in my fight. Those people kept reminding me that my concerns were valid, and they were worth fighting for. Yet the battle continued. I made some gains towards resolution, but only partial gains. 

I had to make the decision whether to keep proceeding with the battle, to take it to the next level, or to stop.

Should I keep fighting?

My initial thought was to keep going. I’d already gone so far! I couldn’t stop now. I’d be letting myself and others who would be protected by a full resolution down.

Should I keep fighting?

The recommendation of a friend and fellow union member finally sunk through. I made gains on this issue. The gains would make the problems that led to my rights being violated better than they were before.

No, it hadn’t gone down the way I would have liked, but the outcome that we did get was not a complete loss. It’s also opened a dialogue about these problems.

Long and short?

I don’t have to fight any more. 

I’m getting over the mental hurdle of “quitting,” because I do feel in part like I’ve failed. Decades of “winners never quit” are reverberating through me in regards to this.

Which is a bit of an epiphany, both in regards to professional and personal things.

Maybe that’s why I push so hard. Because winners, supposedly, never quit.

But sometimes they do. Sometimes they win because they do.


In this particular case, I have to remember that I didn’t really quit. I stood up for myself, and change is occurring. If I hadn’t stood up for myself, I’m pretty sure things would just stay the same.

better by change

I’ll never stop standing up for myself, that’s just fact. But I can keep an eye on when it might be time to call it a day: when it’s time to put the boxing gloves away.

So though it may feel like quitting, I stopped fighting at the appropriate time.

I’m unlacing the gloves…


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