Why Quitting School Was The Best Thing I’ve Done For Myself


I’m a quitter. I just didn’t know it.

I have always felt this extreme need to reach the (self-perceived) pinnacle of everything I try to do. Doings things halfway is not a concept I’m familiar with. There’s no one pushing me, I wasn’t raised in an over-bearing family, and I have no idea why I am the way that I am. If anyone can tell me, that’d be great.

I’ve been in school for twenty years. Non-stop. This includes my entire K-12 experience, but nonetheless, 20 years is a long time. I don’t even like school that much. I mean I didn’t even go to preschool so it’s not like this insane drive to succeed was ingrained during my formative years. Most of my family couldn’t tell you what I majored in. By now, I have 2 undergraduate degrees, 1.5 master’s degrees, and am ABD (all but dissertation) in a PhD program. If you were to ask me why I kept going, I couldn’t even tell you. It was just something I did, without even thinking about it. Oh, and here’s something even better- I have no idea what it feels like to only have one job like a normal person. I would work a full-time job, and usually one or two part-time jobs while going to school. Many of the jobs required travel, or had insane hours, and I constantly struggled to keep up my schedule. I did well in school, I mean clearly or I wouldn’t have gotten this far, but other areas of my life were a complete disaster. Below is a list of things that happen to you when you are in school and work no less than 65 hours a week.

  1. You have no idea what you like

Outside of school and work, which I don’t even like, I don’t know myself well enough to describe my interests or hobbies to anyone. Do I like the new (insert trendy name) restaurant? I have no idea. Share my thoughts on IKEA? Never been there. What’s my favorite book? Oh, it can’t be a textbook…? It’s not that I’m unable to form an opinion on things, it’s that I’m unable to find the time to form them.

  1. You don’t sleep

I have enough time for about 6 hours of sleep a night. When I try to fall asleep, however, it doesn’t happen. If I’m home from class at 10:30pm, and I’ve got to be awake by 6:30am, time is of the essence in all after-class activities. I have to eat when I get home, feed my pets (oh, hey, I guess I like animals!), and sleep. But is it even possible to leave a doctoral class with your mind unstimulated? No, no it is not. Good luck falling asleep without sleep aid, which leaves you feeling groggy and unmotivated in the morning, but dammit, you’ve got things to do!

  1. You hate mornings

See the last sentence of the previous paragraph. Sleep aid addiction + not enough time to sleep = morning zombie. I’m not kidding. I may or may not own stock in RedBull.

  1. Your beauty regimen consists of less steps than Lance Bass takes in any N-Sync concert (He can’t dance. They would always put him in the back)

I don’t even own a brush, and if I wear make-up my coworkers think I have an interview or something. I own more sweatpants than non-sweatpants. It’s convenient that I bite my nails because I wouldn’t have time to get them done, anyway.

  1. You are completely unrelatable to your friends and family

God forbid if you should try to vent to anyone. They’ll tell you to just quit something. Don’t you think if I were capable of doing that I wouldn’t have been in school for 20 years and collecting jobs like they’re going out of style? Try to describe your research dilemma to people who don’t even know what your major is. Real helpful. Also, try to care while your single-jobbed friends complain about having nothing to do on the weekend. I have a weekend class. What kind of torturous world would place a required research course on a weekend?

  1. Anyone you date has got to be a complete saint

You’d better hope that this person has a ton of friends, a job that requires them to be busy a lot, and doesn’t mind seeing you at weird hours or only on the occasionally open weekend night. Actually, this probably sounds great to most men. Maybe shouldn’t be on a list of self-described bad things. Oh, and I’m an unmarried, childless 34-year old. Goodbye, childbearing years. It’s fine. I also, conveniently, hate children anyway.

But, I did it. I quit school. Something had to give and the number of sheer panic attacks I was having were not worth the PhD credential. Here’s a list of things that happen when you quit school, and are down to one job (at least until your seasonal jobs start again…some things never change).

  1. I like things now! I like TV shows, reading funny books, and crappy, Americanized Mexican Food.
  2. I can sleep in sometimes! Of course I still have to be at work 8-5 M-F, but I can sleep in on weekends and if I want to go to bed at 8pm, I can do it. I think my pets are thankful that I’m home more, too.
  3. Mornings aren’t so bad! So what if I have to get up early…I only have to go to one job and sit there? Awesome. I got that sh*t.
  4. I kind of want to go shopping and buy make-up? Let’s not get carried away, I still show up to work with wet hair. Gotta catch up on all the years of missed sleep so maybe I get up too late to dry it. So what. But I can see a time, in the future, where I won’t look repulsive to those around me.
  5. I listen to, and care about, other people’s lives. I used to hate talking on the phone because it seemed like a waste of time to do it when I could just send a quick text while simultaneously doing 83 other things. Last Friday night I stayed home and talked to a friend on the phone for 4 hours. It’s great to be present in my interactions with other people.
  6. Someone dates me now! And I have time for him. Still pretty set on the not wanting kids thing, but at least now I feel like it’s a personal choice and not because I chose to make myself crazy busy and wasted my fertility.

So, I am a quitter. Quitting got me to where I am today, which is enjoying life one boring old day at a time. And I could not be happier.