That was what the man, my boss, whispered into my ear, his hot breath fluttering the hair on my young neck. I was a "personal assistant" for a D.C. bigwig. I had lasted six weeks before, in abject fear, I tendered my resignation. I was stung and humiliated. I was 20 years old. I had committed an almost unpatriotic act -- I had quit.
Never give up! Quitting is easy! It's always too soon to quit!
So go the Facebook posts, with pictures of cringing kitties or grinning senior citizens.
It took me some time to overcome my Calvinist roots and boot strap upbringing, but after I recovered, I began to think of quitting as a marvelously freeing, vaguely subversive thing to do.
I have quit many endeavors in my life. Relationships, jobs, "great" ideas that backfired. I have quit apartments I did not like, I have quit people who were bad for me.
Four years ago I was writing a book. Then a bunch of bad things happened, back to back. My brother Peter passed away, a business partner revealed a criminal and unstable past and eventually, I lost my publishing deal over a creative dispute (read: unwillingness to change the title).
Battered and bruised, assailed from every direction, I quit. Boy, did I ever.
I quit the country and moved abroad.
I needed to lick my wounds. I needed to press the pause button.
But Julie, friends cautioned, you can't just walk away! You can't just quit! What about the book? What about this, this and that?!
But in my quitting, I have never gave up. I never stopped wanting to wade my way out of the grief, doubt or feeling of isolation. I never stopped wanting to feel better. I never stopped.
I published that book, finally.
It's a book encouraging screenwriters trying to break into a formidably competitive business. A culture of being discovered at the soda fountain -- being in the right place at the right time. A culture of miracles and wonders.
I am the perfect person to have written that book. I too believe in miracles and wonders.
It takes a great deal of courage to quit, try a new direction and to know that somehow, some way, it will work out. It takes something like gumption or perhaps naiveté to never give up, to never stop searching for satisfaction, expression, fulfillment, love.
Even if that means taking the other path, the Plan-B path, the one we hadn't planned on.
Some of us head butt our way through life, come what may. My hat is off to those people.
And some of us are quitters.