I am a quitter and have been forever. If it is hard, if it is challenging; I just quit. I have let fear grab a hold of me and pull me down, prevent me from trying, stop me from challenging myself, which means I haven’t allowed myself opportunities to succeed. There is no reason to put yourself out there, make your vulnerable state known, wear your heart on your sleeve only to have it rejected, denied, or not be enough.
What if you give it all you have, but it still isn’t enough?
These are my fears, my anxieties, my daily struggles. They have taken many forms: playing sports in school, making friends, dating, taking charge of a group or organization, and I find that my motto in life is ‘You can’t fire me I quit.’ Just when I think I can, just when I have been pondering, mulling, praying, or hoping that I can take that leap, I don’t. I know it isn’t healthy, I know it isn’t fair to me, I see other quitters, and I think, “Oh, you are so talented do it.” Then I see the doers leading, trying, succeeding or failing, but almost always happy they did it, they tried, and didn’t cower.
I have children. I don’t want them to quit. They are bright, witty, imaginative, and have wonderful gifts to share with the world, and I don’t want them to have their dreams stall because they let fear be their master. However, when do I say sometimes quitting is OK? What if you try, do it, attempt it again, and just aren’t happy?
My husband thinks it shouldn’t be allowed, it is a self-fulling prophecy, once you allow those words to enter your vocabulary, you can easily find a justification to reinforce your desire to quit. The ever-struggling quitter inside of me says, but if you aren’t happy, if you don’t enjoy it, if it is work to do it every time and you aren’t putting much effort into the activity because you don’t care about the outcome, you don’t care about the goal, you aren’t interested in the accomplishment, then maybe you should quit. Is it worth doing if you are only going to half-ass it, if you are merely showing up to say that you showed up, if you participate only because your parents had to yell, scream, threaten, and basically tie you up and put you in the car, is it worth it then? Are valuable skills still being taught? Once you achieve the goal, even if it is a couple years away, will you take a deep breath and say, “There were times when I wanted to quit, but having finally reached the end I see it was worth it?”
My husband went back to school after a couple years in the work force. He received his Ph.D, it took longer than expected due to changes and challenges beyond his control, and there were moments when he could have quit but didn’t, and now no matter where life takes him he can proudly say he has a doctorate. In the end, the challenges, the sacrifices, the days and nights spent in pursuit of this goal were worth it. Does that pertain to children too? How can you tell the difference between a child going through a rough patch, a struggle to weigh the benefits, or genuine dislike? In a world with so many options, where we often hear that life is short so we should do what we love, is forcing a child to continue so they don’t think they can quit when it gets hard or boring the right thing?
My husband and I see it from different viewpoints. I say my son doesn’t like it, he genuinely tried, and his passion for it has died. There are other activities and sports that he can try, and he can find a new place to devote his time and energy. My husband says it sets a bad example, if he tries something but the path to success is longer than hoped for, if there are bumps, if it isn’t always great, and we allow him to quit, then from now on he will always see quitting as an option, the easier option, and he will take it.
I don’t know the answer.
I struggle with some of the choices I have made in life. There have been times I chose based on ease of attainment versus passion, and sometimes I regret it. I don’t want my son to live with regrets and what-ifs. Am I enabling him to be a quitter or giving him the chance to find something he truly enjoys?