Sunday, 30 October 2022 21:32

Quitter

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When I was five years old, my mother enrolled me in a local majorette’s group for kids my age. I whined to her that I didn’t like it and wanted to quit, but she “forced” me to go so I could learn how to twirl and toss and spin a long metal bar with two knobs on either end like her. She was the “best in the school,” said my grandparents. But I was not like my mother. I was uncoordinated, dropped the baton, and had a hard time paying attention. During the parade my group marched in, I carried the banner with our group name on it because I wasn’t good enough to walk and twirl with the others. I quit after the parade.

When I was nine, I signed up for gymnastics because I thought it would be cool to do all the neat flips on the floor and on the bars and beam. I wanted to be in the Olympics someday. By then, my mom was gone and wasn’t “making” me do anything. I went each Wednesday to the YMCA, hoping that week was the week I’d be able to do a roundhouse to flip or a back-walk-over. But after a few months of “not getting it,” I quit gymnastics.

When I was 12, I participated in karate classes taught by my favorite teacher from 4th grade. I learned katas, kicks, punches and blocks and earned two belts within a year, but I grew impatient with how long it took to earn the belts. I quit karate.

When I was 14, I signed up for the softball team. My mother had also played the sport in school and my family thought I would be a shoe in like she was. I mostly sat on the bench. I couldn’t hit well. I dropped pop-flies because I was scared of the ball hitting me in the face. None of the other girls wanted to be friends with me. I quit softball.

When I was 15, I started writing a fairy tale. While writing it, I had visions of one day getting it published and seeing it on bookshelves. I worked on it for months. But after all those long months, I lost motivation to finish. I quit writing my fairy tale.

When I was 16, I was asked by the track coach to be on the cross-country team. By then, I struggled with distorted eating and body dysmorphia. I thought about joining the team, only for the fact that I would burn more calories, but turned the offer down. I didn’t want the pressure to run for a place in regionals. I quit track before even starting.

The eating disorder stuck around longer than any of the other activities from my youth. I thought that all the obsessions with dieting was one thing I was good at. It made me quiet, small and invisible so no one would see me for the failure I believed I was. And they certainly would not be able to compare me to my mom.

When I was 30, I went to touch rugby practice with my husband. But I was scared of the rough men on the league and feared getting hurt. The men intimidated me and I felt inferior to their size and strength. I didn’t want to get in their way even though my husband assured me I wouldn’t. I quit touch rugby.

Within a year after we were married, I noticed things between my husband and I change. We grew distant and didn’t do things with each other as a couple anymore. I felt the disconnect, but didn’t know what to do about it. I gave up on my marriage. And went through a divorce.

From the time my mother signed me up for majorettes when I was five, to my divorce at 35, I have labeled myself as a quitter. I justified the quitting by telling myself it was because I wasn’t having fun. I told myself I was lazy. I told myself it was too hard and I was scared. I told myself that I would always be a failure and would never be good at anything.

We all have an inner critic. My eating disorder was mine. It kept me at bay by constantly berating me and spewing out criticism like someone at a firing range. I was compared to my mother my entire life and didn’t stand a chance to live up to her. She died with a reputation of being great at sports, popular, and accomplishing everything she set her mind to. In other words, perfect.

No wonder I felt like a failure my entire life. My mother never had a chance to quit anything.

After my divorce, I started aerial silks classes. It was hard. It wasn’t fun. I failed many times. For whatever reason, I kept at it and improved over the years’ time. I’m still not great at it, but I keep at it.

When I was 36, I started belly dance class. I could have quit that too, but decided to participate in the performance in front of real people, something I would have never done in my younger life.

Just a few months ago from the time of this writing, I started pole dancing. Foreign, painful, but ultimately fun and exciting, I continue going to classes and practicing at home with the pole I bought and installed.

There were many times that I thought about quitting. I was tired. I was sore. I wasn’t making any progress. But I have not quit because I learned that it doesn’t matter if I’m good at something. I feel respected by my teachers, included in the class, and challenged enough where I’m curious to see what I can do with what I learn.

I gave up before I gave things a chance many times during my life. I gave up on putting forth effort. I underestimated myself. I abused my body. And I gave up on what I could have been capable of doing. By being a quitter all my life, I learned that quitting anything is really quitting myself and what I will someday become. I want to see what my future self looks like. I quit being a quitter.  

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