The dip: knowing when to quit (and whatever doesn’t kill you won’t necessarily make you stronger)

From early on the potential red flags poured in.

However, when a person is told much of their life that they are too sensitive, or that surely they didn’t read the situation correctly, second-guessing oneself is par.

But, from the first meeting when my husband said the old man hiring me had the eye for me, to the interview when she who would be my closest colleague refused to acknowledge me or pose a question, to the customs official curious to know if I was THE Montessori teacher at a particular school (the one, she informed me, she had just gladly pulled her son out of because he could barely read)–the red flags started early.  I also wanted this so badly, I wondered at what point does one pull the plug.  I wanted to make it work, badly.

Toward the end, it wasn’t that I had been lied to about the hiring decision (I was told repeatedly that my team would select me – they had not).

It was less that my closest colleagues changed languages when they approached topics around me and avoided speaking to me except for to be critical.

And not even the genuine feeling of being lost in how to rectify the confusion– it was my other colleagues that worked in other places on campus approaching me asking if I was ok, saying they didn’t know what my boss was thinking and expressing sympathy for me (because they knew the pinch I was in).  That and going home every day feeling like I had just had the hardest day of my life everyday for 2 months.  These were the final warning signs that brought me to writing the letter that brought me home.

The decision to uproot a five-person family and thoroughly inconvenience everyone was not undertaken with whimsy or light-heartedness:  it was a culmination of a 20-plus year goal.

Imagine stepping out on to ice and slowly testing its strength with each ppi of weight pressure to make sure it wouldn’t crack and swallow you up –and there is a pretty accurate description to how carefully each decision was made.

Despite the support I had been guaranteed, I had been set up in an impossible situation;  put to work with small children in a team that had an axe to grind against the person who brought me in and had no intention of ever accepting my role there.

In the moment there was a tremendous storm inside me.  I had gambled high, but the bet was not looking good.  So I gathered the chips that remained and walked.

Some interpret this as failure.  One acquaintance was unaware that this was not my first time working overseas and I had successful experiences under my belt– he tried to console me.  I didn’t punch him, and that’s good, right?

So often I have wished that I had listened to that sensitive spirit and intuition that I have rather than ignore it and regard it as me being “too sensitive”.

I have been raised on a steady diet of “fail till you succeed” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  I am not sure that it is always the right way to approach things.  In the second half of life,  it’s safe to say that we are more aware of that which is worth the effort and that which will only leave us ragged.

Seth Godin’s book “The Dip” was initially interesting because of its concept of knowing when to quit, and that quitting is often the wisest of all possibilities.  He puts out there that extremely successful individuals quit all the time–using their skill and knowledge and intuition of that which is achievable and that which is just going to be wasted effort.  I found myself agreeing with him.

Sometimes, it is not only ok to quit, but it’s the best option.




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