I played soccer during elementary school – because seriously, who didn’t?
I also swam, played tennis, rowed, horseback rode, and took jazz dancing.
I was also a Quitter – can you tell?
Trust me, it’s not easy to admit I was once a Quitter. In all fairness, I wasn’t aggressive enough as a kid to be any sort of success as a soccer player… so I used the time during games and practices to cartwheel down the field. Tennis didn’t work because I always got sunscreen in my eyes, and you can blame the weather in Tallahassee for that one. Horseback riding is expensive, so no big loss there, and I didn’t properly quit swimming until my junior year of high school. The jazz thing though? I was in kindergarten or first grade and the instructor moved too fast so I called it quits after a day.
I started running cross country my first year at Westover, and though I walked my first season of XC (and ran when I heard cars behind me), I eventually discovered how much I loved running and how much I loved being a part of the team. I learned how important it was to push myself athletically and I found unparalleled joy in my progressively lower 5k times. I found peace in my head during the eight mile runs without music or any sort of technology. I learned important skills for life in cross country, things like perseverance and determination, and I even learned to love the challenge of competing against myself, though it would ultimately be the same sense of competition that made me miserable. Eventually, the sense of competition was all-consuming – if I was going to run and be on the team, then I’d give it 110%; every practice that I couldn’t give everything felt like a deeply personal failure. My junior year, my parents finalized their divorce and I suddenly realized how impossible it was to give 110% academically, socially, athletically, and most importantly, internally. I had too much pride to disappoint myself by being a half-assed runner. (Funny image, yeah?)
And so I quit.
And it hurt. That’s the thing – quitting never feels good. Especially when you’re a person with a lot of pride. It felt like I’d compounded every small failure from the past unsuccessful season of cross country into a bigger failure; even though I was older and the circumstances were different, I felt like I was the same third grader who quit soccer because she was lazy and didn’t really like exercising. (Fact.) Eventually, of course, I got over it, and in retrospect, it was the best thing I could’ve done. I had more time to take care of the most important thing – myself – and while I lost the team, I didn’t lose the capacity to go running, something I still deeply love.
I’ve learned that being a Quitter and quitting are two different things.
The third grader in me who quit because she didn’t like running or frankly wasn’t very good at it is something to be embarrassed about, mostly because she quit before she gave herself the chance to learn something valuable.
The 17 year old who quit after deciding that the stress of a highly competitive individual sport was taking a toll on her well-being? That’s not someone I’m embarrassed to have been.
So here we are… It’s September. I want to join a few more organizations, and my calendar is already filled with project dates and test dates, reminders to go to office hours and to write this blog, Chi O social engagements and recruitment workshops and date nights. I assume yours look similar. There is so. much. more. I want to do and so many different groups of people on campus that I’d like to get to know.
I’ll give those different things a shot. Knowing myself, if I begin to feel that I’m being stretched thin, or that I’m compromising my happiness, I’ll quit – and if you’re reading this and you too have run yourself ragged or feel you’ve come down with a case of Over-Committed Student Syndrome, I sincerely hope you’ll recognize the difference too.
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