Mental Health 101: When Quitting Means Winning

For the most of my life, I believed that quitters were losers. My parents often said, “If you start something, make sure you stick to it no matter what.” So, I tried to sign up for activities that I genuinely liked to reduce the likelihood of throwing the white flag and giving up. Unfortunately, I miscalculated my actions when I went to college. 

I had a year to think about my major, but it was tough for me to decide. My parents didn’t want to suggest anything because they wanted me to make up my mind. On the last day of the decision-making process, I chose to enter the university’s Chemistry program.

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Why Chemistry, you might ask? I went with it because I excelled in the subject when I was still in high school. The second choice was Creative Writing, but my parents said it might not be ideal for financial reasons, so I didn’t pick it. 

During my first year as a Chemistry major student, I must admit how enjoyable it was. I met a lot of smart folks and learned so much from them. I even saw first-hand that having a high level of intelligence couldn’t turn you into a geek automatically. However, things changed when I failed a subject in my second year and had to retake it the next semester.

My interest in Chemistry began to wane at that point, but I didn’t tell another soul. I should have taken it as a sign that I was never meant to be a chemist, but I didn’t. Instead, I smiled through the whole thing and made my friends and family believe that I was still in the game. I said, “I will make sure to ace it next time around.”

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And I tried to make it happen, you know. I studied day and night; I only rested when I slept or ate or traveled. My parents asked if I was alright, and I always replied, “Yes.” I didn’t want to seem like a loser in anyone’s eyes, much less to my family.

Nevertheless, I eventually had to confront reality when I failed another subject in my junior year. It was a prerequisite for an elective subject that I wanted to take later, and failing meant that I’d have to extend my schooling for another semester. It sucked so bad; I could barely hide my self-disappointment to my loved ones. At the same time, that’s when I felt that majoring in Chemistry was not my destiny. Still, I could not let my parents know that I wanted to quit and find another path for myself because I was afraid of hearing them say, “I didn’t know we raised a loser.” So, for a few months, I forced myself to continue my studies.

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Deciding To Quit

‘Forced’ was the most appropriate term to describe what I did because I felt so down and didn’t want to do anything. Little did I know, I was going to classes less and less. Sometimes, I would wake up before class and come up with excuses to avoid attending it. Whenever my friends would call and ask where I was, I lied and told them that I was stuck in traffic or ill. My alibis became so ridiculous that my professors threatened to flunk me immediately if I didn’t go back to school at once.

Well, it wasn’t a huge pile of schoolwork that made me decide to quit studying at that moment. Instead, it was the fact that I didn’t care if I flunked all my classes. I was too numb to worry about what my parents would say once they learned about it, too. I knew then that I was done with Chemistry; if I forced myself to study further, I might die (literally).

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When Quitting Means Winning

I went straight to my parents’ house to tell them what had been happening to me and what I had been feeling for a while. Looking back, I wasn’t sure if it was a smart move, considering I didn’t come up with any plan. I merely thought that it was better if they heard the bad news from me directly.

To my surprise, my parents started crying and hugged me almost at the same time. They said they felt guilty for not noticing my ordeal. However, I assured them that it wasn’t their fault since I took up Chemistry independently. At the same time, I insisted that quitting school was the best decision for me then.

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My parents gave me their blessing in a heartbeat. On that same day, I moved out of the dorms and went back to their house. I took a leave of absence from school and decided to try my hand at creative writing. It turned out to be the wisest decision I had ever made, considering writing felt more like a hobby than a chore for me.

Because of that, I could confirm that quitting could mean winning sometimes.