By Richard Coca
Whether we admit it or not, we all outgrow past interests and part ways with old friends. As dynamic individuals, we all are constantly moving across campus, meeting new people and learning new things that shape our experiences. To say that you’ll leave this campus the same way you entered is ludicrous, and, quite frankly, if you do, you’ve wasted your tuition.
We’re supposed to change. People change. Everyone gets that. But as much as we like to focus on what gets better for us and what we have improved on, we also need to know when to call it quits. This can be hard sometimes, considering the amount of energy you might have invested into a person or a club at the time, but it becomes necessary if you’re going to practice self-preservation.
One of the biggest red flags that you should recognize in a relationship is a mixed feeling of nostalgia and melancholy. If you’ve started to notice that you usually talk about only past adventures you’ve had with your friend and have yet to go on a new one, it might be time to tell yourself to move on. Your friend has now become an acquaintance, and it is probably healthier for both of you to naturally drift away from one another.
Similarly, if that club you joined eagerly as a frosh has lost its shine and its once-amazing leadership, you have the option to either step up or step down. Sometimes, the cost-benefit analysis might tell you that it’s not worth it. There’s no shame in quitting something before it declines further.
Another sign that it’s time to quit is when your values have changed and are now drastically different. Do you and your friend see eye-to-eye on practically nothing? Does the club stand for values you can no longer support? Does the organization no longer effectively charge for change in the right way? It might be time to go.
Quitting can feel shameful. It can feel personal, and it might leave you feeling bad. But break-ups don’t have to be horrible. Don’t ghost your friend. Both of you can still catch up from time to time. You’re acquaintances, not enemies. Don’t simply stop showing up to meetings. Talk to those in charge and relay your feelings. Knowing when to quit is powerful and knowing how to balance your needs with the needs of others is critical for any emotionally intelligent adult.
Contact Richard Coca at richcoca ‘at’ stanford.edu.