On Quitting – Thoughtful Thursday


Kelly Smith 2

Kelly’s portable “office” 

At my old office, I surrounded myself with framed quotes.  They helped motivate me and, I hope, inspired some of the people who came and went in the little non-profit I managed.

One of my favorite quotes was this, by William G.T. Shedd: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are for.”

I had to come to terms with my own “shipness” (it’s not a word, but I’m making it so) after the birth of my third child threw my work-life balance into an overwhelming tailspin.  After weeks of crying in the daycare parking lot and crunching household budget numbers, it was made clear that something would have to give.  That something?  The job I’d loved for a decade, the one I never imagined leaving,

I saw a job ad for an adjunct communications instructor at the area technical college.  I hadn’t applied for a job in more than ten years, but I enthusiastically submitted my name for the position. A part-time job would allow me to keep my professional life active and free up much-needed time for my three kids, including one with cerebral palsy who logs multiple doctor’s appointments each month.

While I waited, I continued to struggle in my full-time career.  Even though I was stressed to the breaking point, I still didn’t know if I was ready to leave.

The day I finally hit a wall at work and came home devastated was the day I received a phone call about interviewing for the part-time teaching position.  The relief and excitement I felt was the answer I’d been waiting for.

As soon as the interview was scheduled, I gave my notice at work.  I didn’t even wait until I had the job, because I was that secure in the decision.  I knew I could no longer “make it work” (said in my most exaggerated Tim Gunn voice).

The transition from running a non-profit and supervising staff and budgets to teaching two days a week and carrying my “office” around in my briefcase was simultaneously jarring and magical.  I absolutely loved the freedom that came from sharing my desk with two other part-time instructors, also busy moms making huge life changes who became my friends.

Kelly Smith 1

Kelly’s new office assistant

I miss my colleagues and the mission from my former job, but I know that I’m walking the path set out for me.  Above that, when I’m at home, I’m present for the three kids we are trying to raise to be responsible, loving little men.

Quitting things is very hard for me, so, for this one, I had to rely on another quote, this one by Seth Godin:  “Winners quit all the time.  They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”

By Kelly A. Smith

Kelly Smith 3Kelly A. Smith is a writer whose work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul.  When she isn’t writing or changing diapers, she’s raising three sons and teaching part time as a college communications instructor.  Follow Kelly’s work at www.kellysmithwrites.com

P.S. Kelly is one of my partners in crime. We share a work space and terrific sense of humor. You absolutely MUST check out her work! Kelly, thank you for making this last year so monumental in the lives of your family, colleagues, and students.
– Melanie A. Peters

P.P.S. That Tim Gunn impersonation is impeccable. 🙂


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