When Giving Up is Getting It Right

My life has been one upheaval after another these last two and a half months. Learning a new city, a new house, and accepting two new jobs almost entirely at the same time. On top of that, those two jobs coincided with the beginning of November, which I decided in a fit of insanity to attempt NaNoWriMo for the third time.

Something had to give.

My second job is in a hospital’s psychiatric unit. Since they hired me a month ago, it’s been a nonstop fight to get information, contact my supervisor, figure out my schedule, and get training in. I managed to have my fourth training shift just this last Monday. I feel unsteady, uneasy, and like the ground beneath my feet is going to give out from under me at any time.

When I mentioned this to my dad (on the same day that my car’s starter gave its last, wheezing breath), he told me, “You’d be an idiot to quit.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve solely relied on my parents’ advice. After my bitchy Holden Caulfield high school era, it was my first year of college where I discovered that I actually liked my parents. That their words of wisdom were actually wise. I preened under the attention, was filled with a bright golden feeling when they told me they were proud. And, I did my best to continue doing so. Not in a way where I ignored my own desires or needs. But, I found my dreams neatly fitting into their own desires for me, a high GPA, a master’s degree, and a solid dose of common sense.

Moving out here wasn’t exactly what they wanted for me. But, when I managed to get my apartment, my car, and two jobs, they felt satisfied that I wasn’t going to end up starving on the street and singing for my supper. What I didn’t expect was how the slow and steady effort of these last few months would grind to a halt. Or how my parents would respond at the mere implication that I was thinking about quitting.

It’s been a week since I’ve been considering it, my head boiling over with stress and doubts, rocking between relief and stubbornness. And, while I haven’t confirmed my decision, my best friend Kate asked a question that I hadn’t even considered.

“Are you happy?”

The answer to that was so basic and simple that I had missed it entirely. It had never even occurred to me to ask. I had always been taught that you suck it up and get it done and grit your teeth and then later you can be happy. But, I’ve been sucking it up and getting it done and gritting my teeth for over seven years, going to school and working and writing and slowly climbing my way upwards. It never had occurred to me that maybe I’ve reached the top.

I’m not a quitter. I hate the thought of giving up. But, all the work I’ve done is so I can be happy. If I don’t decide that’s now, then it won’t ever happen.


Published by Ren Martinez

Ren is a thirty-something Lost Boy whose personal aesthetic is “suspected of witchcraft by local villagers.” She subscribes to cheerful nihilism, the destruction of the patriarchy, and the belief that glitter makes everything better. She is a Richmond-based writer and performer who has fiction and non-fiction work found in a variety of publications, such as The Mary Sue, RVA Magazine, The Quotable, and Nostrovia Press. She is currently the fiction editor and a regular contributor at Quail Bell Magazine. She is also the co-host of the podcast, This F***ing Guy! Find out more at renmartinez.com or read her dumbass tweets on Twitter @itsrenmartinez

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