Never Quit (Except Maybe When You Should)

Once upon a time, I went to Ireland… and I hated it.

Except for the views. How could you hate views like this? (Cliffs of Moher, Ireland)

Except for the views. How could you hate views like this? (Cliffs of Moher, Ireland)

There were many things wrong with it: it was thousands of miles away from home, I was missing everything (including seeing my brother graduate high school and celebrating my 21st birthday with my friends), and they drove on the wrong side of the street and I had this job that totally wasn’t for me. That’s what I told my mom, anyway, that Monday afternoon about five days after I had arrived, trudging up the stairs to get to the LUAS (an above-ground subway).

“I don’t like it and I want to quit and I want to come home and, like, this isn’t what I signed up for and I miss you and can I come home now?” She listened patiently, then told me I could come home, but only if I stayed for just a little bit longer, just to make sure that I really did hate it after all.

Fast forward approximately three months later, and I felt disappointed as the plane landed back on US soil. I was home. And the magical summer abroad, where I learned and loved many things, was over, including my job as intern-extraordinaire at New Island Books. I had listened to my mom’s advice, and I had stayed, and I had had one of the best summers of my life (and one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had, too).

I returned to Michigan State for my senior year, ready to start a 15-credit hour semester with three jobs. For one of them, I worked at a newspaper. And for many reasons, most nights I went home sobbing, hating every minute of my four-hour shifts.

Momma and I (circa 1993-94?)

Momma and I (circa 1993-94?)

“I don’t like it and I want to quit and can’t I just come home?” She repeated what she had said a few months prior: I could quit, but only if I stayed just a little bit longer.

I did. And I still quit three months later. It was for more reasons than “I didn’t like it,” but the fact of the matter was I was so unequivocally miserable in life (at the time) and with that job that I needed to go.

My mom taught me to never be a quitter. You finish what you start, and that is that.

But I think there’s a fine line between choosing happiness over staying just to prove a point to yourself or someone else. There comes a time when you know something isn’t working and you have to be honest with yourself. Sometimes, my mom isn’t right.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that there is not always a best answer to the situation. Could I have left Ireland and been happy? I think so. Could I have suffered through that newspaper job and been okay? Probably.

Hindsight can give you the answers you wished you had had, but there is something to be said for your instincts. Trust your heart. Follow happiness, wherever it takes you. But maybe consider sticking with something, even if you aren’t 100% happy at first, because you never know where life will take you. Sometimes my mom is right, and sticking with something will give you one of the best experiences of your life.

Lauren is a social media professional/corporate writer/overall awesome editor. She spends too much time talking about Game of Thrones and the Oxford comma. To be insta-best friends, follow her on twitter.

Life, Edited

Age 19

My mom laughed when I told her I wanted to go to Europe. For whatever reason, I felt a distinctive tug to go and — I don’t know — explore, find myself, spread my wings, eat food…whatever. “You?” She smiled, “Honey, you’re so shy.”

She was right. I have always had this paralyzing fear of the world — and for no reason other than I am happily an introvert that would rather curl up with a book on a Saturday night than go out to a club. I don’t blame my mom for laughing. If I had really listened to myself, I would’ve laughed too. I would never make it.

Age 20

My professor asked what I wanted to do with my life. It was a question I had gotten too many times in my life, and my rehearsed answer was “work in a publishing house.” It was true — I even had my job title picked out: Acquisitions Editor. My professor, Laura (I’ll tell you more about her awesomeness later), nodded. “Where?” I hadn’t quite thought of that. Wasn’t picking out a job title enough? I shrugged. Laura asked, “Would you ever live abroad?” I blinked and answered, “Sure,” because I was scared and I wanted her to interrogate anyone else but me and that was a quick answer. “What about Ireland?” she asked. “Okay,” I said.

Age 20.8

In front of the security gate, flanked by my mom and my older brother. In a few hours, my flight would take off and I’d fly far far away from everything I’d ever known for three months. I was terrified. There was nothing I wanted more than my mom to tell me I didn’t have to go. Instead, she kissed me, told me to be safe and that she missed me already.

Age 21

Duplex in Dundrum, Ireland. I was handed a stack of thick manuscripts of everything from poetry to fantasy, from history to crime novels. “Read them,” they instructed, “let us know if any of them are good.” And so I read, and throughout the course of the summer, decided the fate of over 200 want-to-be-novelists.

Age 23

Cubicle. I work at a college in southern Michigan now. I’ve been away from MSU for over a year, and from Ireland for almost two. I’ve learned a lot since I came back, but I think one of the biggest things I learned is even though I lost a lot of things because I went overseas (my then-best friends, my then-boyfriend), I’ve gained so much more. I know I am capable of so much more, I know so much more about the professional world, and most importantly: I know (and like!) myself. I like who I have become because I took a leap of faith based on a hunch I had when I was 18, and based off a professor’s whimsical suggestion.

It all boils down to this: if something deep down is telling you something, trust it. It might be outlandish and out of your comfort zone and your mom may roll her eyes at you, but you know what? That’s okay. Because I did what I thought I needed to do and it was absolutely one of the best decisions of my life. It changed my life, as cliche as that is. I took a leap of faith.

Maybe you should too.

Lauren is a social media guru/web content manager/overall awesome editor. She spends too much time talking about Game of Thrones and the Oxford comma. To be insta-best friends, follow her on twitter.