When is it okay to quit?
Two years ago in June, I walked into a CrossFit gym and started a workout with barely enough strength to lift the bar. This was embarrassing. I was not a newbie at all, but a nine-month veteran just home from three weeks away from the gym due to business travel. I was very familiar with the fact that I would not be as strong as when I left, but I wasn’t lifting any weight at all, I was just trying to lift the goddamn 35-pound bar.
Something was wrong. Something in my life beyond the gym was affecting my workout. And something needed to change.
That time I quit CrossFit
That summer my life was a mess – I was working for a manager who said I needed to do some “soul searching” to see if the job that I was doing was what I wanted to do, my husband and I were buying our first house, and I was discovering what it meant to be an “adult.”
They say that one of the main reasons why people work out is to relieve stress. But CrossFit is different; it requires concentration of your mind, body, and soul to push your body to do things that you never imagined it could. And as a friend put it, at CrossFit, you are very vulnerable. And those three things consumed all of my thoughts to the point that I could not put them aside so I could use my brain to focus on the work out at hand.
It was scary. And if you aren’t on solid ground mentally, emotionally, or physically, it makes it even worse.
And it can turn something you love into something that isn’t worth it anymore.
So I quit. I decided that I needed time away from this thing that I was growing to love. This activity that was the first and only form of working out that I ever “got.” This hobby that showed me I have damn good form and kick ass at lifting. This sport that was causing more stress that it was relieving.
The difference between quitting and failure
It’s okay to say enough is enough and put a stop to what’s not working. For me, quitting CrossFit allowed me to take one responsibility off the table so I could spend my energy on working through some really big milestones in my life. It allowed me to preserve the sanctity of CrossFit so that it would still be fresh when, or if, I decided to return.
The idea of quitting is romantic. It’s an action that many of us would like to do, but rarely act upon. And I’m not talking give-the-man-the-finger type of quitting; I’m talking about the “it’s not good for me anymore” type of quitting. The kind that slips out of your mouth over wine with a friend when you tell her about the job that you’re not into anymore or the man you’re seeing who doesn’t fulfill your life the way he used to; the kind that she’ll encourage you to get over and promise that that feeling will come back and that you’ll come out stronger than when you started.
Or, if she’s a good friend, she will tell you to listen to that feeling and just fucking do it.
I like how John Falchetto says it, quitting is a choice:
I chose to quit when there is no progress. When no matter the effort I am exerting, in whichever direction I am pushing no progress is made whatsoever. Sometimes it is easier to walk around the wall than try to push through it.
Quitting is not the same thing as failure. Failure is the act of something not working in the way that you intended it to work. Failure is an outcome, quitting is a choice. Failure is something that happens to you (or something you direct), quitting is you putting a screeching halt to something. And sometimes to prevent being run over by the train, you have to change the tracks and put up the stop sign.
And it’s okay.
Whether it’s a hobby, how you workout, your job, your lover, and even your best friend – quitting, when you know why you’re doing it, is okay.
Learning from the past
Technically this isn’t a story about quitting; it’s a story about hitting pause. Four months after I quit CrossFit, I found my way back. I resolved two of the three issues that got in my way during the summer and found a new gym. This new gym invited me to join their community and I fell back in love with CrossFit.
It wasn’t the same kind of love. This time, I know that I will have an “off” night and that things will happen at work and at home that will affect how I perform at the gym. There are nights when I will fight back tears because emotionally, I can’t find the strength to start or even finish a work out, but I will find the strength to show up. And that’s okay.
This time, the relationship is different because I am approaching it differently.
What have you quit? What did it teach you?
Photo credit: Jen Collins (hellojenuine)
This entry was posted on Monday, September 26th, 2011 at 11:59 pm and is filed under crossfit, life & observations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.