Hello, dear friends! I have been in a lot of pain this weekend. I couldn't go to class Friday because I couldn't even manage to walk. It felt like my leg joints were all trying to go in different directions, which is a very strange feeling. I'm recovering, though, and am mostly just worn out at this point. In any case, I thought I'd write today about things that I've quit in the past and why quitting things is often actually a good thing.
Most people try out a lot of different activities as children and teens. How else do you find your skill and interest areas? I went through my fair share of activities before settling down with my current interests--which, of course, still doesn't mean I've figured out all my future, but at least I've a good idea of where I want to go. Here are some of the things that I've tried and then quit:
Because one of my pre-fibro symptoms was walking almost exclusively on my toes until I retrained myself otherwise, my mom, who did ballet herself, signed me up as a three-year-old. Tippy toes = good at ballet right? Not really, though, because the pre-fibro and just me being me made me super uncoordinated and not terribly gifted with dance. I liked ballet, though, most of the time, although I hated the costumes a ton. The costumes, and my lack of skill/the way others treated me for said lack of skill, lead to me quitting ballet after I turned twelve. I did a ton of other dance off and on too, though--gymnastics as prep for dance, tap dance, ballroom dance, Irish dance, modern dance, hula, and finally, hip-hop. Despite a continued lack of skill, I really liked hip-hop. I felt like I'd found an area of dance I really wanted to explore with that--and within a couple of months after I took hip-hop, I developed full-blown fibromyalgia. Sooooooo yeah. Moral of that story? Sometimes you have to quit because you're just not good at/able to do things. Like, anything physical at all. Whee!
I have no idea when I started Girl Scouts; I suppose whenever you normally start such things. I really liked learning and achieving and getting my badges, but I had a hard time sometimes with the other girls, and I got stressed out a lot by my potential for failure at our activities. In the end, the whole bee incident that really made my anxiety visible happened, and... yeah. After that bee thing, Girl Scouts just didn't work for me. I'd already felt myself drifting by that point anyway. Lesson learned? Sometimes you're not emotionally prepared for an activity, and groups that are too broadly focused can be especially difficult.
I began piano in the first grade and was pretty darn excited about it, because I am very much a music person. I learned a lot in the course of my piano lessons, which went until I was in high school, but ultimately it stressed me out far too much. A lot of that was my OCD, which lead to me having panic attacks all the time and going through tons of different piano teachers because they scared me too easily. I couldn't handle being pushed at all. In the end, what I learned from piano transferred over to an instrument I could deal with much more easily--cello. Cello was better for me than piano because there are no piano orchestras (that I've ever heard of), and performing solo was too much stress for something with my temperament. So the lesson there? Sometimes one kind of activity is a stepping stone to another that's more suited to you in the long run.
I was part of a knitting club at my elementary school for a while, and I did a lot of other craftsy things at that age. I embroidered some, I sold some stuff at a craft sale, and I repeatedly tried to put together a crafts club. Actually, I tried a ton of different club ideas. I wanted to do something Baby-Sitters Club style, but we couldn't organize anything properly enough. Once I hit middle school, I "grew up," so to speak, and I didn't feel like doing that stuff anymore. Nowadays, I tend to look at craftsy stuff with a wary eye. In this case? Sometimes your interests just change.
I wanted quite badly to be an actor for a while. My strong imagination and desire to live in fictional worlds made it seem like a good run, and one that could get me some lurvvvvv from adoring crowds. But after I auditioned for a couple of plays in fifth and sixth grades and only got side roles, I gave up on that. It was too much of a blow to my pride. I felt embarrassed, I thought people were playing favorites, and it was all just generally unstable. Not winning at a public speech contest that year also played into me gaining a bit of stage fright. And yes, now that I've overcome my disorder and gained personal stability, I recognize that giving up just because of public scorn or fear is kind of a bad idea, but from that I learned that sometimes things just aren't meant to be for whatever reason. I wasn't meant for theater, and I have little interest in it now.
I never really "joined" singing--like reading, I feel like I've always been doing it. Church choirs, school choirs, then vocal lessons. When I was really young, I explored it as a possible career, but only casually. I knew pretty quickly I didn't want to do that. Singing is natural to me, something I really like to do, but unlike cello, it never spoke to me at the core. It felt too easy. Yet, at the same time, trying to perform as a singer on a serious basis, on stage, always kicked my OCD in and turned something "easy" into something horrifying, which was not at all what I wanted. I didn't want it to be like piano. I tried to push past that, though, largely because I wanted the music scholarship at Adams State, and I started out majoring with vocal performance. That combined with all the stress of my first year at college and subsequent mental breakdown led to me burning myself out on music. I, essentially, quit singing. I only just restarted singing along with songs or with the congregation during hymns in the past few months. I don't know if I'll ever sing in a choir or otherwise publicly again. I might. But from my mishaps with singing I've learned that some things are never meant to be more than casual, and if you force them, you ruin them.
A Collection of Other Things
Like most kids, I tried a bunch of other things on a more casual basis to see how it worked for me. I wanted to join track, despite having always physically struggled with running. I was convinced I could overcome, like in all those shark-bite-surfer or prosthetic-leg-runner stories. Yeah, that never happened. Ditto for basketball and soccer. I collected rocks (also stamps) for a while, then got bored of that. I tried to babysit and then realized the competition was too fierce, yo. I tried out a lot of art, photography and painting and pastels and pottery. I still sketch on a very casual basis for novel inspiration. I took a debate class in high school that I enjoyed. I might've gone further with that if I'd had the time or energy, but it wasn't meant to be. I tried guitar my first year of college, but that took a bad turn. I also had a bunch of different career goals I cycled through as a younger kid. In the midst of all that, though, I discovered creative writing, and in it, my true passion. Within that, I tried journal writing, picture books, songwriting, and poetry before I found the sweet spot of novelling. So that moral? It's good to casually try out a lot of smaller things, because you may discover what it is you truly love.
Today, I'm pretty specialized with my reading and novel writing, along with this blog, casual drawing, and... cello? Yes, I think I've un-quit cello finally. When I burned myself out at Adams State, I burned myself out of cello for a while too. But cello isn't like singing, or like piano, or like most of these other things. Cello speaks to me at the heart, it's something I love to do, and something I'm decent enough with that I can perform.
There's a caveat, though. Like singing, cello is only meant to go so far for me, and if I'm to do it in the way I really love, I have to do it in an orchestra. And I can't pressure myself, either. Though cello is something I'm not meant to quit, I have a very rough history with it. Cello and my OCD got very wrapped up around each other, which is part of why I had to temporarily stop. After all of that, I know now that I have to be careful not to push myself too hard. It's not worth it, you know? That's not what this is about.
I rejoined orchestra this semester at college, and even though we've only played once so far, I'm very excited. With my anxiety down, I find it so much easier now than I used to, and that increases my enjoyment tenfold. I think I'm finally playing cello the way I was meant to in the first place. Which is a beautiful, wonderful thing. But I never could have understood any of that if I hadn't gone through the rough patches as well as through many of the other activities that I've since quit.
So the real point of this big long post is that every activity you try, and every one you quit, is leading you someplace important. (I've found this also to be true of friendships, as a side note.) Whether you're narrowing down your options, discovering your true talents, or gaining skills that will boost you up to an even better activity, there's plenty to learn. But you shouldn't hang on any tighter than you have to. It's good to be a quitter actually most of the time--as long as you're not quitting plain out of fear. If you're quitting because you're scared or have lost hope, my advice is to take that break, let the dust settle, and then reconsider. In your heart, in your core, do you really want it still? Never mind your fear or despair. Do you want that activity in your life? If so, no matter how upset you are right now, it's worth it to keep going. There are only so many hobbies that'll stay with you, only so many that really matter. Don't let them slip by. Keep the things that you want in your life, and do what it takes to keep them, whatever limits you have to set, whatever fear you have to fight. But the rest? They just aren't worth it.
Thanks for reading, y'all. Tell me about the stuff you've quit! Next time, I'll see you for Top Ten Tuesday. :)
Images via tutushop on eBay, lifenews.com, esom-music.com, tutorials.knitpicks.com, sd35.bc.ca, natfinn.com, theartcareerproject.com, and jeanclowercello.com.
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