A few days ago, I wrote a post about giving up on books you don't like, and something about that post has been humming in the back of my mind ever since. I don't usually mull over my own rambling, but this time I might have hit on a deeper subject without realizing it. The subject being: quitting.
Now, before it get into anything here, let me preface by saying that you should always give everything you try a chance. You should not give up right away because it isn't fun, or is too hard, etc. If you don't give things a chance, you will miss out on a lot of great opportunities to expand as a person and enjoy life.
However, that being said, sometimes quitting can be good. This country has an obsession with never quitting anything, and I don't believe it's healthy. And I'm not just talking about the things you hate, I'm also talking about the things you love, but may never be successful at. For me, it was music.
Now, don't get me wrong, I haven't lost music from my life entirely, but I no-longer consider myself a musician. I had a very short lived attempt at a life as a singer, and it just didn't pan out. I was talented, but just not talented enough. I was trained too, so don't think I was one of those American Idol wannabes, I actually have a music degree in vocal performance. I did--and do--know what I am doing, but sadly, singing is just like writing; of the thousands out there trying to 'make it', only a teeny tiny percentage actually will. Sure, when you come out of a failed audition all you fellows say things like, "Don't worry, this just wasn't the job for you!" and "You'll get'um next time!" and "Someone will just love your voice!", the same way that writers say that sort of thing to each other when queries and submissions get rejected. It's she same for actors, dancers, musicians; all of us. We all have more rejection than acceptance, and we all have cheer leaders in each other. Are the cheerleaders right? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But in the end they don't really matter--what matters is you. Do you see yourself making it? Honestly now, don't give yourself any of that, "Rah! Rah! Never say die" crap and soul search for a minute. Is this what you were really meant to do? That's what I did with regards to my music career... and the answer was no. I realized that if I was going to 'make it' that I would have. I will always sing and play my instruments, and I will die if at least one of my kids doesn't want to join the band in school, but as far as who I truly am, the answer isn't meant to be 'singer'.
But this is all fine, because if I hadn't quit the music industry, I may never have found the calling to write, and I can truly tell you that I am a writer. I see myself writing for the rest of my life. I loved--and still love-- music, but the way I feel about my writing is just... well, different. I can't describe it, but I know that it's right. That is what I believe happens when you find what you are meant for. But I never would have gotten here without quitting first.
Please don't take this all the wrong way. I am not telling you to quit writing if you haven't yet succeeded, or to quit the job you hate (unless you can afford to do so, in which case more power to you), nor am I saying 'it will never happen for you, so just give up'--not at all. What I am saying, is don't get so stuck on one thing, that you miss out on all the other things that may be better suited for you. Being focused and driven is great, as long as you don't have blinders on. This idea of learning to quit can encompass anything, from (just an example here) quitting writing all together, to simply quitting on a book, only to move on to your next one. Quitting something that you have tried your best at is not failure; it's growth. A person who has failed more than you is a person who has tried more things than you. Don't be the person who misses out on hundreds of wonderful experiences in pursuit of one. When I was researching this idea I came across a quote from author Julianna Baggott who words it perfectly:
"Sometimes you shouldn’t stick it out. You should give up. You should say die – so some other part of you can come alive."