Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Quitting Myth

Tile Making Obsession

I was strongly struck by something my brother told me when I mentioned I wanted to go back to ballet (I was a ballerina in the past and today dread physical activities). He told me that it would be one more thing on my list to quit. 
The comment sounded odd, as I never saw myself as a quitter. But when a co-worker said the same thing about my enrolling on Orange Theory exercise program, I had to look at the “quitting thing” more carefully. Not so much at the fact that maybe I am a quitter, but how society sees and expects us to behave.
There are several things about my personality that have changed over the years, but there are some that have remained the same. The ones that I find particularly pertinent to this topic is that I learn or experiment by doing rather than observing; my absolute inability to continue or pursue something I hate; and my intense curiosity.
When I look back, I guess in my little brother’s eyes, I have started and not finished many things: I was a good ballerina (not great, but good) and gave that up; I did theater for some time; I took up cross stitching; I bought a whole tennis outfit and tennis racket and played one time; I took a job I realized I hated after 1 week and flew back home on the second day of training (I swear, I left the hotel at 5am); I took salsa lessons; bought skates to exercise and used it once; right out of college tried to be a therapist for autistics kids and gave up after one week (it takes a very special talented person to do this, I have a lot of respect for them); and ended some very serious relationships, and I guess throughout my life I wanted to be many, many things when I grew up, none of which is what I do today. 
Therefore, I understand that in my little brother’s eyes, I might be a quitter in some sense, but in my eyes I see things very differently now. Although I felt I was doing what my heart told me, it was only when my brother made the comment that I realized I too pressured myself based on society’s expectations, even if in an unconscious level. But hold on, why should I???? 




When I read “Refuse to Choose”, it became clear to me I was one of those people the author calls “scanner.” You know, the “jack of all trades, master of none.” As we know, this trait is not held in high regard in our society. We are all supposed to be specialists, experts in something. I am not saying this is a bad thing, I sure do not want to have brain surgery with someone who was fixing ingrown nails last week, but in general, we should all have some room to pursue the things we love. 
As a scanner, I am curious and do things for the learning process itself, not the goal. I did cross stitching until I felt I knew it well enough, for as long as it was a challenge, then I got bored with it. I danced ballet until I felt I was good enough and I mastered my pointe, then I was done with it. I like to learn for the pure pleasure of learning not because it should have a purpose or a financial gain. Learning it is MY reward.
As a kinesthetic learner, I learn by doing it, which also means sometimes I need to do something myself to realize I hate it. When I applied for the job as counselor of autistic kids, the “idea” of it sounded wonderful to me. What can be more gratifying than helping children gain social and physical skills in order to have a better quality of life? When I actually did the work, I was absolutely petrified. I was not physically capable of handling some of the bigger kids and I was afraid I was hurting them or doing something wrong when they screamed. I had to do it, in order to realize it was not for me and that I was not good at it.
All this brings me to the point I really want to make: why quitting can be a good thing. We are bombarded everyday with messages about never quitting or never giving up. But sometimes not quitting can be a big waste of time and resources we could be using to produce, do, be something that is much more valuable to us. Take a profession for instance. I changed my mind several times, until I found something that fulfilled me in ways that matter to me: I like to problem solve, to investigate, to be solicit to those who need, I also like order and hierarchy. 



And then it was not anymore. And I quit. Now that I have a week under my belt at the new place, I can say it was the best decision I could have made.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 



25 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Calling someone a quitter is a harsh comment... Maybe the harshness is because they could view themselves as quitters? The ones who called u quitters have they ever quit at something? We all have good intentions of finishing what we start.. we may get distracted or lose interest in whatever we start.. I know I have.,..As they say 'walk a mile in my shoes'....

tinajo said...

I don´t know, I see it as development and growing. One tries one thing, figure out if it´s good or not and move on if it doesn´t "do" it for you, but still richer within.

Most things you quit help you in another area as well. I was a scrapbooker once (actually for many years, maybe 7 or so) but suddenly grew tired of it - but thanks to that I learned SO much about photography and telling a story. Just one example of the many things I´ve quit but still grown through.

I don´t want to be my dad who´s stayed at the same job for 30 something years, it works for him but I need the challenge in learning something new. :-)

Sherri B. said...

Oh yes...I, too, am a scanner. And I absolutely agree that sometimes persevering in something can be very harmful, especially if it completely drains your spirit. As always, I LOVE your thoughts, Ana...and I'm glad you are enjoying your new job! (those are beautiful tiles!)

Red Shoes said...

I agree that calling someone a quitter is rather harsh. I think that we look for something we like... maybe we jump into somethings too quickly... too rashly... but eventually we find what we like... we find where we want or need to be.

You've settled into your artwork quite nicely...

Happy Easter!

~shoes~

turquoisemoon said...

Knowing when to walk away is very important...
You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

Kathy, PaperPumpkin said...

We learn by doing. I understand the journey and am happy to hear that you like your new job, Ana!

Sulky Kitten said...

I know exactly what you mean. I hate to see people who persevere with relationships/careers even books if they aren't enjoying the ride. Life is too short. Glad you're liking your new job!

BIKBIK AND RORO said...

There are things we quit because we lack persevrance and give up too easily, and there are things we quit because we've learnt all we could or want, and are adventurous enough to try something new. Those are personal decisions, and no one should make a sweeping, negative judgment of a person's choices. We often do need to try many things first before finding our "niche" in the world -- it's great that you're settling happily into yours. A blessed Easter to you and yours :)

Jess said...

Life is too short to spend it doing something you know in your heart isn't for you. I think i'ts a good trait to have, to be brave enough to stop and say no I've had enough of this. Good for you!xx

Magic Love Crow said...

I love your tiles ;o) I don't like the word quit. I don't think you have quit anything! You are growing, you are learning, you are experimenting, you are living ;o)

Kyra Wilson said...

That comment from your brother really bothered me. It was... unkind. The only true quitter is the person who gives up on everything. The only point in this life is to move forward. Trying new paths to move forward in order to find the right one doesn't make us quitters, it makes us more aware than most people who forge ahead miserable instead. We choose not to be miserable. We choose to believe there is more out there. We choose to move forward, and that means we're not only not in the category of quitters, but probably more dedicated than the average person who stays put.

I'm glad you're happy! :)

Kristin said...

I have to agree that your brother's comment was unnecessary, judgmental and rude. (My own brother is the king of all those things).

There are a lot of gray areas to the
"quitting" word. Some would call it "moving on" and deciding not to stagnate in one hobby/job. It's all subjective.

Kristin

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

I understand completely what you are saying. I'm also a 'scanner'. I enjoy trying new things because there are so many wonderful things to try. I'm not sure I could just stick to one. You are being true to yourself, and that's a huge step in the right direction.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Life is definitely too short to be spent doing things that you DO NOT love. In my opinion :) I hope you had a great Easter!

Jillian said...

This post really resonnated with me, because I feel that I'm the same way. I have tried so many professions and hobbies so far in my life, dabbling for a while and then moving on. Writing and knitting have been the only "life skills" that I've carried with me from there to here. I read somewhere that highly successful people actually "quit" more things than other types of people - they have a better guage of when something is working and when it's not - when it's not they drop it and move on. Therefore, they have more opportunity for success - I guess it's up to the individual whether or not they are looking for spiritual, fiscal, emotional or relational success. I think we should all be brave enough to quit more things - and also brave enough to know when to dig in even though we know we want to quit-because it will make us stronger. Nice post. Thanks!

Ariel said...

Everything happens for the best. Life is a journey and we pick things up and have to drop a few.
Happy April Ana

Francie M said...

Well, isn't that the truth! I had the same problem with books for a long, long time until I realized nobody was going to come and berate me for not finishing whatever it was I was reading. I would be embarrassed to tell you how old I was when I realized I DIDN"T HAVE TO FININSH WHAT I STARTED. Way to go, Ana! I'm on your side!

Nadia said...

Does it really matter how many times you quit something? I hold on to long to something just recently and it only made me miserable to find out that I have to go and do what I love to do.
Some people know it right away and others try different things. You are good in analysing, thinking and then share it with us and it made me think about my life, so big thanks to you Ana!! xoxo

NatashaMay said...

I am a scanner, too. :) And I actually for a long time blamed my parents for not pushing me to finish stuff but they rather left me to make my own decisions always saying I'm doing it for my own good and my own future. But as I see it today, why bother with something you have no passion for. And you cannot know if that something is for you or not until you try it. And even if you find you passion it doesn't mean you don't have the right to change your mind about it later and find something new to be passionate about. I hate it when people are judgmental about things they don't understand and even more so when they say hurtful things because they don't have the courage to do the same thing. Oh, how I enjoy reading your posts. :)

Petrina Anna said...

So many wonderful comments with such wisdom. I, too, am a scanner, of which I didn't realize until reading this blog post. ha! Possibly your brother is envious of your ability to leave something that does not make you happy. I know just reading this post and the comments, I feel better about the decisions I've made in my life and continue to make. =)

Shaharoh said...

Poignant post. I too have dozens of lists, plans, books I've started to write and read but never finished. I think To Live is to explore as many things as possible. One could argue that the fact that we wake up everyday and continue to go about our day is a case for not giving up. All of those things that you mentioned you explored -- maybe you didn't master but they added to your knowledge of things. I'm amazed at the courage it took for you to try things out and decide they weren't for you and then move on.

Anyhow, I'm sure your brother meant no harm--sometimes we need mirrors to reflect things back as us in order to write inspirational blog posts that help others. This, my friend, I believe you've mastered.

Elena said...

Always love your posts. I couldn't believe how much I related (I mean I already knew we share so much in common) But I recently felt that same sting when my Mom and son called me a quitter in the same week. It also happens to be the same week I discovered Refuse to Choose ;) . And yes for all the reasons you mention above...I find something interesting, need to try it out, get bored, move on. If I like it, I stick to it longer. Life is such a buffet table!

Palomasea said...

My goodness, I don't think I have ever seen my feelings (and my life) verbalized like this!!
What a brilliant post, with which I agree wholeheartedly...
I believe in learning for the sake of learning. For me. The world absolutely needs specialists, but their passion is their passion, and those of us who need to experience many different outlets have a ton to give as well..just differently...
Sorry to drone on, but you have really touched me...how blessed you are to see this quality as a strength, and a precious part of who you are. I am so reading that book! :)
I found you through the splendid Jocelyn at Zendoll...will be following!
Blessings,
- Irina
P.S. Your art is gorgeous...

Shelley Whiting said...

You are a very good writer and it was fun reading this post. The art does is very abstract and conceptual. It does look like the "quitting" idea. Very thoughtful art and intellectual art.

Fundy Blue said...

Right on IA! I'm a scanner too ~ although my brother and sisters call me a butterfly. They say I like to flit from flower to flower sampling all the nectar. Sometimes I say something aloud ~ like "I think I'm going to go back to volunteering at the Fossil Lab" just to see how I feel when I verbalize it. It took me a while to figure out that that was what I was doing. I think you are wise to try out all kinds of things, and to move on to something else that beckons when you have experienced what you needed from your current passion. You have articulated so well how I feel about quitting. What your brother said was a little harsh ~ but then that's what brothers do! At least if yours is anything like mine!