Bruce Barcott writes in The Measure of a Mountain that "There are honorable and dishonorable forms of the quit...Implicit in the honorable quit is the knowledge of one's own limits, and the confidence to live with them--or at least know when, and when not, to push."
It's a weird concept to deal with, I think. I grew up with the idea of never quitting beaten into my skull--maybe because of people around me, maybe because of my own personality, but that's the way it was. Don't give up. Don't give in. Fight fight fight. Push forward, you can do it, achieve more than you think you can, keep going even when you want to stop. And mostly, I think it's true. It's on the fringes of what you think is possible, the very outward edge of what's comfortable that great things happen.
But lately I've been wondering if maybe sometimes it's just not that smart to keep pushing.
Today I submitted my resignation. For real. Like as-of-June-18th-no-longer-have-a-job kind of real. Because when it came down to it, this wasn't the place where I wanted to keep on pushing; when it came down to it, this kind of quit was the quit that needed to happen. I am very keenly aware of disappointing my students, disappointing my coworkers, and disappointing my principal, all of whom (well, except for my students maybe) have great expectations for me in this school--but to keep pushing here was just pushing for the sake of pushing, staying put simply for the ideal of not giving up, not because it was actually something worth not giving up for.
I quit for all sorts of reasons, many of which I'm still processing and many of which I will probably write more about later. But fundamentally, I think this was an act of self-preservation, a quit that opens up a whole different world of opportunity and excitement, a quit that gets me out of a situation that is becoming ever more soul-crushing.
Again, I hate to give up. But the more I think about this, the more I think that even though I am giving up a whole lot--it's been really hard for me to talk about this decision without crying, much to my annoyance--I'm gaining even more. I'm psyched to get back out into the world and see what it has to offer. I'm psyched to throw myself into something new. I'm psyched to stay connected to education in different ways, psyched to volunteer, psyched to read and write and take classes, but mostly psyched that I got out of this while I still loved students. My district is a system whose business is students but who seems to have forgotten that students are people too. I'm glad to get out before I forgot.
So I'm resigning, but not resigned. I'm going to do great things, even if I'm not quite sure what they are yet. Like Paulo Coelho says in The Alchemist, the universe will conspire to help me reach my goals. I'm setting my intentions and setting out.