Everywhere you look, you are bombarded with messages which look like “Be motivated, don’t quit” OR “Stay strong, you can do it” OR the simplest one of them all “DON’T QUIT” The reason I say, that one is the simplest one of all because it has just two words in it…”Don’t quit” but here is my question to you…IS IT WORTH IT TO KEEP GOING IF THE DOOR IS LOCKED?
There is a reason behind why I chose this picture- A door with a lock on it. If you think about it, this picture would make a lot of sense. When are we thinking about quitting? In those junctures in our life when it feels that we are not making any headway in the place that we are in. It seems like we are banging on a door which refuses to let us in. This point in part comes from my own personal experience and how this post came about to be.
In order to understand my story, I need to give a bit of background on me. I am a dentist who changed careers and went into psychology. The change did not happen overnight. I had moved to Canada from India and tried to get back into Dentistry. But after three years of trying, I decided to change careers. I made that decision because the Canadian Universities were closing there international program for a year or so due to the sheer number of applicants. I did not want to wait and by that time, I was tired. So, I decided to get my Masters in Psychology because that was a profession that resonated with me on a personal level. I can tell you for a fact that I was happy with what I was doing and felt that Psychology was my calling but along that journey, there was a certain guilt associated with maybe not trying hard enough to go back into Dentistry.
Then, four years ago we moved to the United States. I was a mother by then and we were financially stable enough for me to try and give another shot at becoming a dentist (My guilt has become much stronger now). My children were only 4 and 2 at the time and yet I completed BOTH of the National Boards with my first attempt; was driving 1.5 hours away to regain some exposure to dentistry by working as a dental assistant.
I applied for 3 consecutive years again and finally got an invite to a prestigious University. I reach there knowing fully that I was one of the oldest candidates and it was proved when I looked around. I start to chit chat with a few of the other candidates and soon realize that most of them had less to no experience in the United States (when you apply to these international programs, you are told to show US experience in some form) My interview took place; a few months passed and then I got the rejection from the University.
By this point in time, I am re-examining my priorities; I am irritable; I am angry and then one night I had this interesting, eye-opening conversation with my daughter:
Daughter: Mom, you look tired
Me: Yes, I am sweetie
Daughter: Why don’t you rest?
Me: I do, in the night when I am going to bed
Daughter: (thinks for a bit) Are you happy?
Me: (surprised at the question)
Daughter: Mommy, are you happy?
Me: I’m not sure…. I have you, your sister and your dad…that makes me happy
Daughter: I think you are also angry most of the time
Me: (realization strikes in) …I think I get angry because I get tired
Daughter: (looks at me) then do you have to be tired, always? I wish you were not tired.
Me: No, I don’t always have to tired…now go to sleep.
Daughter: Okay mommy, I love you.
Me: I love you (**and thank you**)
Writing about this conversation still gives me the goosebumps. If my daughter hadn’t asked me that question, I can assure you that I would have been in a loop where I was not achieving anything in my life. I was tirelessly trying to get back into something that I realized had closed its door on me and I was standing outside it, knocking…waiting to be let in.
That is when I decided to do some serious self-reflection to realize what I was doing in life. And this is what I came up with:
“I was the happiest when I was in Counselling; I was passionate about it; I had time to spend with my family; I enjoyed it“
That was the key right there, my second eye-opener “I enjoyed it” To get to my answers took a few months. I took the decision to leave dentistry behind with no guilt and go pursue my passion in psychology where I feel the HAPPIEST.
So, here’s my question to you again: IS QUITTING THAT BAD? The short and simple answer is NO and here are my reasons for it.
It takes a lot to open our eyes to see that the said path is causing us more frustrations in life than making us feel happy. At most times, it will be someone close to us that will try to convey us this message.
Point to note: You will see yourself becoming defensive because you believe so much in your dream. I would like to emphasize that it has to be someone who has repeatedly told you this because they are the ones who are looking at us from the outside. So, please pay attention if they have brought this point up repeatedly.
YOU CANNOT SEE A SOLUTION:
The best indicator to constantly chasing a dream that is not getting fulfilled is to see if you have tried everything and still there is no solution to achieve it. It just means that it is now adding to your frustrations.
Point to note: This does not deem you as a failure because I know how that feels and I felt exactly the same way. It shows you that you didn’t give up on dream till you exhausted yourself.
SPENDING TIME ON THIS MEANS YOU ARE NOT FOCUSED ELSEWHERE:
This is an interesting thing for you to ponder on. If you are releasing your all your energies on this one dream, there could be something else that you could be excelling in and could use your untapped potential.
I know my message sounds harsh in the picture above but I want you to focus on the words. Failures in life just means that the universe has something better in store for you. This is something I realized when I was pondering upon my own self-reflection. I used the word FAILURES for a reason because this is how it seemed to me and I am sure if you are in the same boat as me, it would be feeling the same way to you as well.
For me, I found my path in psychology because I was already pursuing it and knew that is where my passion and strength is; and now I am here…PURSUING IT WITH A RENEWED PASSION AND STRENGTH within me that I did not know I possessed.
YOU WENT IN IT FOR THE WRONG REASONS:
Your reasons for going into what you thought was your aspiration could be someone else’s aspirations. Ask yourself these questions when you are trying to ascertain the reasons:
- Was this my dream to begin with?
- Was I forced to go into it for making someone else happy?
- Did I just make a bad choice in life?
- What were my reasons to going into it in the first place?
- Is something in store for me that I know I will excel in?
I can honestly tell you that when I answered the question “Did I just make a bad choice in life?” I answered it as “yes” because prior to my move to the United States, I was very happy being a psychologist and it had given me a very happy feeling. But like I mentioned above, I was feeling guilt that I hadn’t tried 100% to get back into dentistry and chose to go and try for it again. And I had to ask myself “Was this guilt justified when I was happy?” The answer came back as “NO” I should have continued to do what I was happy in. The guilt came from thinking that maybe my parents were not happy that I had switched and that maybe they were not proud of me.
This is when I tell you that your happiness lies in your hands and it is a true statement.
THINGS YOU NEED TO THINK OVER BEFORE YOU TAKE THIS STEP:
It would be completely wrong of me to not give you another list to think over before you do decide to leave something behind:
MAKE SURE YOUR REASONS ARE JUSTIFIED:
Remember, all of us go through days where there are ups and downs in life and those affect all areas of our life. Make sure that you have tried every tool in your kit before you decide that it is time to call it “quits” Try going to a Life Coach or a therapist to help you get some new strategies to see if you can succeed in your endeavors before you make this big decision.
Give it several chances:
In my case, it was a cumulative of 6 years before I decided that this was not working out. I took a very long time to make this decision and my case I did have a secondary degree to fall back on. Your case might be different, DO NOT QUIT AT THE FIRST SIGN OF A ROADBLOCK. Make sure you are trying to solve that roadblock with everything you have within you until you are exhausted.
Making the decision to quit something is a very, very hard one. It should not be made at the first sign of seeing obstacles in your path. This decision becomes a life-altering one and you have to make sure that you have a back-up plan in place before you decide to quit. And remember, if you do decide to quit, there is something better in store for you.