Self Care: The Real Name for ‘Quiet Quitting’

Susan Kelley
2 min readSep 13, 2022
Photo by Braxton Apana on Unsplash

Can I be honest? (Even if you say no, I’m going to be anyway.)

I. Hate. The phrase. Quiet Quitting.

I know…it’s new and everyone is still trying to figure out what it really means, but come on. We know what “boomers” think it is. We know what “bosses” think it is. We know what Gen Xers and Millenials and all of the other labels seem to think it is. The problem is that each of those groups has a different notion of how to define the word.

The only thing you really need to know to wrap your head around it is that it isn’t actually quitting. It involves staying at your job, and staying unhappy.


We have a more scientifically documented and researched phrase than quiet quitting anyway. It’s called “Burnout.” There, I said it. Quiet quitting is not exactly laziness, unless being lazy came about by overworking in the first place.

Chicken, meet Egg.

Look, I came of age watching those 80’s movies about stock brokers and women having it all in life. So now, nothing resonates with me more than what Amelia Nagoski says is a system rife with “unspoken cultural expectations rather than actual work requirement.”

When our goals or expectations are unmeetable, we get burned out. It’s pretty straightforward, really.

The normal human response to this? Self. Care.

In this instance, self care is somehow being re-termed to fit a cultural cake mold and the outcome is as unflattering as double-fisting apple cider donuts. It may self-satisfy, but it’s not a good lewk.

As Nagoski goes on to say, the idea behind this quitting comes from “the perspective of folks who have been selling not just their time, but their selves to their employer.” Who wants to do that?

Put simply: none of us.

This is not a pandemic response or a ‘millenials just don’t want to work’ response. This is about what we have been trying to convince ourselves to do for so very long now: just take good care of ourselves as human beings existing in the world. Having a psychologically draining relationship with our jobs is just untenable. From micromanagers to utterly demanding superiors, it’s just that we are finally listening — and offering up some self-care.

The danger in this response? Caring for ourselves?

That our employers have not caught on that this is essential, and that they should get on board, or they’ll have no one to type up that memo or draft that report, let alone make their lunches or mix their cocktails.

Self care is not the answer, though. Eventually limiting work obligations and burning a vanilla candle will not be enough.

That’s when the real quitting takes place.


Susan Kelley

Susan is a runner, a mom of 3 grown children, and an avid traveler. She writes about humans, and wrote a book about false accusations of sexual assault.