Should I stay or should I go now?

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Perseverance, determination, never giving up, even failure are all sign posts on the way to success.

I have always believed that when you hit hard times or the going gets tough you shouldn’t quit, no matter what, quitting is equivalent to losing, throwing in the towel is giving up simply because the pace quickened and it was a bit more difficult to keep up.

Winners never quit and quitters never win. Right?

I am not so sure. We all know the person who should have given up long ago, cut their losses or made a wise decision to abandon a course of action when failure was practically inevitable.

So when is it the right time to quit and when is it better to give it another shot, one more chance or to task yourself to try a bit harder to see if you can turn around what appears to be ailing fortunes?

Take my son. If you have read my previous posts you would know he was subject to a bullying campaign at junior school which first raised its ugly head in the local football team of which he was a member. Every week he begged me not to go and every week I told him he shouldn’t let the bullies win. In the end he was so unhappy, there was no alternative. Looking back I should’ve let him quit around a year earlier. To this day he has a pathological hatred of football.

By comparison, at the age of 13 I suggested to my eldest daughter she should join the army

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cadets as she wanted to be a vet and the thought of five years in vet school funded by my meagre earnings filled me with dread. Be an army vet and they will help fund your ambitions, I reasoned. So off she went. ‘Oh my God, it’s so boring all they do is march around’. She went under duress for the first few (ok a few more than a few) weeks because we’re the family who don’t quit, we’re the family who keep going, no matter what. Two months later she loved it and left the cadets at the age of 18 two best friends richer. Six years later she’s just about to finish her first year of vet school complete with an army scholarship.

We live in one of the few 11+ areas, none of my three passed the exam, including the one at vet school (which just goes to show it’s complete bollocks, but that’s another blog post). However, I put the middle one in for the 12+, she passed and switched schools. So why did I choose to quit with the eldest and the youngest but didn’t give up with the middle one? Ok, whilst I didn’t know it at the time, she scored the highest of the three, but that wasn’t the reason. By this time her more out-going sister was blazing a particularly bright trail at the school the middle one also attended for a year and I didn’t want her to have to be continually compared and go through school in the shadow of the older one. I wanted her to forge her own path. I also thought she had the capacity to cope with ‘failure’ twice which I wasn’t convinced the eldest (that’s right, the one who failed and ended up with a string of As and A*s at GCSE, AAB at A level and a coveted place at vet school) and the youngest with their more gregarious personalities and their need to be liked and admired could handle. It was a calculated risk and it paid off.

We face these decisions all the time. Have the courage to quit or grin and bear it and carry on.

A few years ago a group of us women, who had all been to school together, sat around one of our dinner tables and after a few bottles of wine we contemplated life, the universe and everything. Well, relationships. Four of us five had thrown in our respective towels when it came to husbands. We collectively admired our depth of understanding to know our relationships were over, our strength of character to walk away and our determination to rebuild our lives.

Then the fifth woman told her story. Married in her early 20s, two kids, their marriage hit the rocks. Her best friend assured her ending the relationship was the right thing to do and she would endure some tough times but it would be worth it. She ignored her friend’s advice, dug deep, carried on and came out the other side. She says her relationship with her husband now is better than she ever could have imagined.

Was she right to stay? Clearly, yes. Were the rest of us wrong to go? Clearly, no.

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The family that never quits at the top of Snowdon and Milly with broken foot (she took the train with friends!)

And, there you have it, boring and cliché I know, but giving up at the first hurdle is one thing, knowing when it’s time to quit and when it’s right to hang on in there is quite another and there’s only one person who can be the best judge of that, sometimes we just need the courage to do what we know is right.

So, we find ourselves at yet another crossroads, as life has a little habit of throwing up a multitude of conundrums along the way. Do we quit something of several years’ standing because we feel the time is right or do we stick with it and by so doing, possibly turn a corner? We were all for quitting. Then, I talked it over with a friend, who knows the situation well, and she has persuaded us to stay and fight another day. For the time being.

For us, the jury is still out. Should we stay or should we go? At this moment in time I don’t actually know, but I do know, when we make our decision, it will be the right one.

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