As an admitted perfectionist, the mere sound of the word “quit” makes me cringe. In my mind, it had always been synonymous with failure. In sports, academics, even social situations, quitting was always the less-preferable option because it meant I was not strong or smart enough to finish what I had started. I assumed that quitting was synonymous with a lack of confidence or ability, when in reality, it can be the exact opposite.
Let’s back it up to my freshman year of college. I was attending a large public school located in Boulder, Colorado. Unsettled, persistently cold and thousands of miles from home, I was slowly starting to learn why quitting would be so important for me. It was as I sat in my 400-person Introduction to Economics class that I first learned the idea of “sunk costs,” and experienced my first- and probably last- life-altering class lecture.
Essentially, a sunk cost occurs when one “cost” has already been given: time, money, effort, etc., and thus cannot be taken back if it is no longer beneficial, no matter how much of it has been already spent. A person is sometimes better off stepping away and reassessing whether or not a certain cost is worth it before continuing on. All this to say: quitting paradoxically becomes a huge part of progress. As a lover of practicality, I immediately tried to find a fitting application for this principle in my own life. Little did I know that the school where I learned this concept was also the sunk cost with which I needed to part ways.
That summer I traveled back to my home in Texas and was filled with love from family and friends, feeling more at peace than I had in my entire nine months in Colorado. I remember thinking to myself, “I thought I was supposed to enjoy college and it was going to be ‘the best four years of my life,’ so why am I dreading going back?”
The perfectionist in me began to come out full-throttle. I struggled in letting myself entertain the idea of finding a new school, because that meant I was going against a plan, otherwise known to me as “quitting.” This is where the sunk costs come into play. I was stuck on the idea that I had already spent so much time in one place and wasn’t open to messing it up just for a couple years of my life.
I began to pray more intentionally than I ever had before, begging God for some semblance of direction. I needed to know that making a change wasn’t just ‘taking the easy way out’ or running away from a problem.
Newsflash: It’s not. How do I know this? Because I now attend Baylor University and have not looked back once.
Quitting doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with a lack of confidence; in fact, my decision to transfer to Baylor was quite the opposite. It was a leap of faith, resting in full confidence that God was leading me in the right direction for my life. No, it was not easy, but it was worth it. Sometimes life is about finding that balance between the two.
My advice to my fellow perfectionists: don’t get stuck on your idea of a plan, which is minuscule in comparison to the plans that God has for you. Be open to the abrupt, messy changes that are in store for your life. For all you know, it could be exactly what you needed.