Knowing When to Give up on School or Work

Help! | Kristen Kurlich

How many times has someone told you to “work hard and never give up”? We are flooded with stories of diligence resulting in success. And while perseverance is an admirable and useful quality, it does not always lead you directly to the finish line.

Sometimes our finish lines are unrealistic or unclear. Sometimes our finish lines cause us more harm than good. If you find yourself drowning in expectations and overwhelmed by your goals, if you’re feeling unhappy and uninspired, maybe you should reconsider that five-year plan that you made 10 years ago. It’s good to know when to give up.

It’s time to acknowledge that giving up does not always make you weak. Far too many people work day in and day out for a job that they barely like, hoping to catch a break or receive a long overdue promotion. So many young adults spend six to eight years in a classroom, burying themselves with information in which they no longer see the importance.

We get comfortable with our daily routines, telling ourselves that, eventually, they will pay off. Sometimes giving up means that you have the maturity to admit that things don’t always work out the way that we plan, and we must adapt when they don’t. Giving up in the right situations can push us out of autopilot mode, and may be necessary to protect our mental health.

So, how do you know when to give up on school or work? Pay attention to the following warning signs:

  1. You’re overwhelmed with feelings of exhaustion, self-hatred, or depression

  2. You find yourself questioning if the path you’re on is even what you want anymore

  3. You’re not making enough money to compensate for your unhappiness

  4. You feel relieved with the idea of giving up

The trick is to be honest with yourself. If you are having these feelings or thoughts, take them seriously. Forget about what everyone else will think or what your parents and peers will say. You do not have anything to prove. This is your life.

We are put on a very specific path from the moment we are placed in the school system. Go to college, get good grades, get a good job, make a lot of money, get married, have kids. For some people, this path works, but it’s not for everybody. It certainly wasn’t for me. You have the freedom to create your own path, take advantage of that. Giving up doesn’t always equate to quitting. It can be the first step to living outside of the box, and to reevaluating what you want out of life. Giving up can mean a new beginning.