Quitting has a stigma attached to it. It shows that a person is not dedicated, is flaky and
unreliable, and most likely has commitment issues. But is that really fair? I don’t think so, because I am one of the best quitters there is, and I don’t believe any of these qualities define me.
I have quit so many more activities than my friends, it almost feels like a bragging right. After six years of hard work and dedication, I quit piano, and after only five, I quit the oboe and with it, the pep band. Three years were all I could tolerate of my school’s softball program, I quit soccer twice, and I left the track team after only one season. Speech only lasted a matter of weeks (a personal record). I signed up for Reviving Ophelia and Knightlife (two clubs promoting healthy lifestyles), but I gradually stopped attending meetings.
I can say with pride that I have successfully quit two instruments, three sports, and four clubs in a mere three years. What an accomplishment!
Don’t misunderstand me, I have never joined an activity for the sole purpose of quitting it. Curious by nature, I don’t let fear of the unknown stop me from trying new things. In fourth grade, when my music teacher asked me if I wanted to try playing the oboe, I said “sure.” Of course I wouldn’t turn down my dad’s offer to teach me softball, and I didn’t question my mom’s hunch that I’d be good at soccer (I wasn’t). Track seemed like a great idea because I was already a cross country runner and Nordic skier. Speech sounded like fun, and I joined Reviving Ophelia because I was a girl and Knightlife because I stay out of trouble. I knew that high school would pass quickly, and I wanted to be experience as much of it as possible.
I first began to doubt my commitment to my numerous activities when I found myself unsuccessful at, fed up with, or just plain disliking most of them. My piano teacher expected perfection from me, which I failed to deliver. Pep band was just the opposite, filled with apathetic freshmen who only wanted their fine arts credits so they could quit. The softball program neglected freshmen in favor of students from the junior high, I was only a mediocre soccer player, my speech coach stood me up three days in a row, and I never had the time before or after school to attend
Knightlife or Reviving Ophelia meetings. So I slowly quit them all: piano before ninth grade; speech and Reviving Ophelia during ninth grade; soccer and softball during tenth; and Knightlife and track during eleventh.
Suddenly, I had afternoons free, and determined not to waste them, I now spend at least three days a week catching up with my friend Kiley after school. We work on our chemistry homework, walk around campus, pester our English teacher for writing advice, and ponder our existence. And Kiley isn’t the only friend I’ve reconnected with. Last month, I joined a recreational soccer team with another friend, Jenny, playing because I love the sport, not the competition, and I am making a habit of running with a freshman friend, Rachel, from the Nordic ski team. Sometimes I even go rollerblading or play a piano duet with my mom. Although I haven’t been doing anything strictly constructive with my free time, I have been able to strengthen my relationships with my friends and family, which has been much more rewarding than any involvement in track or softball or Knightlife.
I hate to be labeled as a quitter, but having an awareness of my limitations has its merits. In addition to having the time to strengthen relationships, I also have more time to focus on the things that I am actually passionate about, such as Nordic skiing, math league, and cross country running. These are activities I’ve tried and stuck with because, in simplest terms, they bring me joy. Unfortunately, in order to discover which activities bring me that joy, I’ve done my fair share of trial and error, which is a fancy way of saying that I’ve smudged my reputation a bit by quitting eleven activities in three years.
In an ideal world, I would prefer not to be defined by what I do but rather by who I am: a girl who loves trying new things, who enjoys the company of others, and who is true to herself. I can’t guarantee that I will always stick with every new thing I try from here on out, but I can guarantee that if I’ve tried something with an open mind and that if it isn’t right for me, I will quit it the only way I know how: with no regrets.
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