I Quit....Maybe

by - 9:20 AM

My junior year in high school, I signed up for Spanish III. I didn't regret it immediately. It was third period, comfortably located in the middle of the day, I wasn't bleary-eyed when I showed up to class, and best of all, it was right before lunch and Senora always let us leave early if we conjugated correctly on the first try.

It seemed like it could be pretty lax. But then, it wasn't. It got hard, and I considered quitting. I can still think back and remember sitting in that room, I can remember specifically which desk I was sitting at and who was next to me. I remember the pile of papers in front of me. And I remember thinking -- I want to quit.

I don't know what kind of moral cesspool I was swimming in, but from somewhere deep inside me, a place I'm not really that familiar with, I found some previously unknown ability and resisted my primal urge to drop that which sucks. I stuck with it, promising myself to hang on until at least the end of the semester. I'm not a quitter, I thought. And I wasn't. I stayed in that class for the entire year. And then I signed up for Spanish IIII the next year.

Fast-forward many years. I've learned the value of quitting, but I've never fallen in love with the guilt-tinged feeling of defeat. I've quit things that needed to be quit, but having to admit that I can't do this sucks every single time. I quit boyfriends and a toxic job. I quit acrylic nails and a nail-biting habit. I quit red hair dye. I quit Gossip Girl and ice cream before bed.

And I remember that day, in Spanish class, when I silently reminded myself over and over again, I am not a quitter. I thought I was standing tall on a moral high ground, and quite frankly, I was proud of myself. And maybe I'm still proud of that decision, but I've learned that there is real merit in quitting. You quit the bad things to replace them with good.

I'd like to think that I've made some good decisions about what to quit and when to give up, but there is always that space in time, right between moving full steam ahead and I can't anymore. That space, that's where am-I-making-a-mistake? lives.

Right now, me and am-I-making-a-mistake? We're living in the same place. Right between I'm-totally-doing-this and actually-no-I'm-not. Big life changers sometimes require even bigger collaborative changes that serve as the building blocks to the new life structure. Pieces, collaborative changes, that are a combination of I quits and I'll see it throughs. Screw up one of those blocks, make the wrong decision by quitting something that you shouldn't, or sticking with something that features no success, and the structure that you end up with could be entirely different. And the great mystery is that no matter what structure you build, you can never know what you might have gotten if you made different choices. Those are the what ifs of life and no matter how many times you think about them, at the end of the day (or the end of the building project), they don't exist.

I'm staring at the blueprints of a new building project. I need freakin' bricks to build something new and I'm pulling from two piles, the I quits and the I'll finish what I starteds. In order to build the most solid structure, I need to choose my bricks carefully and there's one brick that looks particularly tempting. It comes from the "I quit" pile, but it has me asking, much like the 16-year-old, non-Spanish speaking me, am I a quitter?

Well, yes, but not just because something is difficult. I stuck with Spanish III and even though it sucked, I saw it through. That doesn't mean it's not damn tempting to shove the tough stuff down the toilet and clap cheerfully as it swirls down the drain.

And so, this is a tale without resolution.....yet. Blueprints in hand, I'm an architect ready to build my new project, but I haven't made my decision about the bricks yet. Stuff like that takes time, careful consideration and quality materials. So, here's to choosing to face down the scary stuff and signing up for Spanish IIII. Here's also to acknowledging defeat and using those bricks to build something wonderful.

PS - I finally quit Spanish in college. One semester and I reached my limit. I quit. 

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