On a drizzly Saturday afternoon in early 2015, seven people gathered in Busboys and Poets for the inaugural meeting of Washington D.C’s newest group – The Quitters Club. Their cause? To chuck it all. A club of the same name exists in Tennessee’s Freed-Hardeman University, but why? Why would there be a club that exists for the sole purpose of quitting?
The group of strangers – a would-be writer, a failed actress, etc. – had been drawn together by a call. “Most of us have something special we’d like to do with our lives,” it said. “Often this Holy Grail does us more harm than good; costing valuable time, resources and relationships. At the Quitters’ Club, our club, we can help each other stomp out the brush fires set in our hearts, and get on with our lives.”
At the center of the event was, according to Ellen McCarthy of the Washington Post, “a stylish, young-looking man in a tilted fedora and a vintage leather jacket.” This man, 36-year-old Justin Cannon, has quit all sorts of things- filmmaking, music, graphic design, undergraduate school. He created this Meetup group (a group of people who meet face to face and do the planned activity) and the aforementioned seven met up to give up on their dreams. This all sounds like an awful idea, right?
The first two hours yielded similar results; each time an interested party of the Quitters’ Club would take the stand, the group would convince them to continue their current field of interest. The actress, they decide, should give it a hard push for a year before throwing away her ambitions of making it on stage. The woman considering quitting her friendships should refocus on what she loves about them.
McCarthy continues: “The one person who the group thinks should actually quit is the technology professional who’s spent the past decade moving from city to city for high-paying, short-term gigs. But the only reason he should quit is to pursue his real dream of living a stable, small-town life.” It’s unusual, surely, seven members of the Quitters’ Club encouraging each other not to quit.
“I knew that was gonna happen,” Cannon says. He’d said before the meeting: “If I can help one human being, just a little bit, to get out of their own way, that’s fine.” Before they leave, the seven attendees promise to keep their newfound resolutions – go to 10 auditions, look for a new job, finish the draft of a section – and report back the next month. It turns out they just needed a push… a push to quit. Or, it turns out, to keep trying.
Personally, I was intrigued by the idea for the name – it sounded like the title of a book, or a film. As I researched further, it turned out it was neither, but instead a group of people gathered together to give up on lifelong dreams that had been holding them back. The idea is so abstract – in fact, Cannon admitted that it started as a joke – and yet it has brought new motivation to the majority of its then-77 members. So, what do you think? Could the act of quitting actually be a good one? In the words of Cannon, “You know, that’s a really great idea.”