I've been told at several junctures in my life that I'm a quitter. Whether others have given me this label, or whether I've taken it on is tough to say. Regardless, it makes me insecure every time I feel the itch to walk away.
It all started in high school. I loved the performing arts. I went to public school for the first time as a freshman and immediately joined the speech team, jazz choir, and performed in the spring musical. Sophomore year, I wanted to do show choir too, but it conflicted with speech team, so I quit the one so I could do the other. After two years of having all-day Saturday competitions (first speech, and then show choir), I wanted my weekends back. I wanted to get a job. I wanted to work on the yearbook. So I quit show choir my junior year. After that, I never got another part in any of the plays or musicals. I'd quit both the theater and choir directors' gigs, and they had to teach me a lesson about quitting. I loved working on the yearbook and cheerleading, but I wanted to do business competition (DECA) and an internship my senior year, and I was focused on scholarships. Something had to give. Yearbook was time-consuming and required that I sell advertisements for part of my grade, so it hit the chopping block. I tried to quit, and this time, my yearbook teacher gave me the BIG BAD SPEECH.
You quit everything. This has become a habit and character flaw. You will never be able to hold down a job or a marriage. We would be doing you a disservice if we let you quit. Not this time. You have to fulfill your commitment.
Boom. That speech in the principal's office with my parents and yearbook teacher has haunted me.
It's true from one perspective. I never dated anyone longer than 3 months, my first marriage did end in divorce, and I quit my job at Brotherhood Mutual, not once, but twice. I also left Aptera Software after 3 months, Remedy LIVE in less than 6 months, and Mary Kay in 9 months. These are all truths.
I recognize I am a passionate person, and I like to go all-in on things. Perhaps that's why people feel so burned when something shifts, and ALL turns to NOTHING with me.
Here's another truth. I believe in trying things. I believe in seasons. Things are temporary. And I do not measure the value or worth of things by how long they last (with the exception of marriage, which is an understood lifelong commitment that I failed to uphold). With that one exception, I feel no regrets for terminating engagements. Permanence and longevity, perhaps like the hustle, get sold big to kids our age...and contrary to the BIG BAD SPEECH, I don't think it's in OUR best interest. It's serving someone else's interests, enslaving me with fear, and hanging my reputation in the balance.
While I believe in commitment and always strive to follow-through, I do my best to release myself from the label QUITTER. Not all commitments should be permanent, and when my values or priorities shift, part of being authentic is to reevaluate and make changes. So I examine my behavior, resolve to wade in slower in the future, and charge myself to never make another feel guilty for walking away. Rather, I choose to congratulate them for trying and thank them for the time they did give.
Believe it or not, this all gets stirred up for me again today, because I'm thinking about the things I've quit with Phoenix. I quit cloth-diapering first, and now Mitch and I are going away for a week and I don't have enough breast milk stored to last him till I return. I will be supplementing with formula for the first time. When I get back, I have surrendered to the possibility that we may be done nursing, even though I don't want to be. And the BIG BAD SPEECH echoes in my head.
You're a quitter Maddie. No follow-through. I knew you couldn't hack this natural motherhood gig. Are those Goldfish you're giving him for snack?
Yes. Yes they are.
So I'm giving myself permission again, and you, if you need it: Follow your own path Maddie. Honor the commitments you've made, yet leave the things by the wayside that no longer serve you. Change course when it's time. Don't look back. You are not a slave. Have grace with yourself. Learn from your experience. Do better next time. Forgive yourself. In this case, it's just diapers and what will end up in them anyway.