I'm a grad-school drop-out. I spent a year in the University of Chicago's history program, and then quit to go be a poet. I spent years sending manuscripts off to tiny magazines without any notable success. So, eventually I quit that, too.
There's a huge stigma on quitters. When I left grad school, my grandfather—a very successful patent attorney, and a man who valued education very highly—wrote me to tell me I had betrayed my parents and my potential. (My parents didn't feel that way, thank goodness.) And if you do drop out to pursue your dreams of being a writer, you're at least supposed to stick to that. Advice to young writers always emphasizes persistence the importance of not being discouraged. Whether you're pursuing money or your education or your dreams or your Hollywood romance, you're not supposed to give up.
The stigma against quitting is unfortunate for a number of reasons. In the first place, quitting is sometimes really the thing to do. You can't concentrate on your poetry if you stay in grad school; you can't move on with your life if all your energy is on writing poetry no one wants to read. My nine-year-old son played soccer for a couple seasons; his team lost every game; he was miserable. Some folks would perhaps argue that he should stick with it...but why make him do something he hates just for the sake of proving he can? Better to let him go take karate lessons instead. Quitting lets you do something else, rather than spending the rest of your life like the monkey trapped with its hand in the jar.
The stigma against quitting also has painful results for women. Research suggests that employers tend to discriminate against the long-term unemployed...and one group in our society that is likely to drop out of the workforce for extended periods of time is women. Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett pointed out in an NPR report this week that women in their 30s in the US often "leave or languish," dropping out of the workforce because of a lack of childcare options and a general disenchantment with job opportunities in the stagnant U.S. economy.