I’m a quitter.
What? That feels weird to type out, derogatory even. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard someone say— “Wow she’s a quitter, isn’t that so great!”. How many times have you heard that quitting isn’t an option? My online web search defines quitter as “a person who gives up easily or does not have the courage or determination to finish a task”. Hmm, that doesn’t sound exactly right. But I believed it for so long about myself, because I listened to the noise- that is, what other people were saying or had said about me.
You shouldn’t quit volleyball…
You shouldn’t quit your job…
And most of all…you definitely shouldn’t quit school.
Chances are, you can relate. You’ve pushed through things just to avoid disappointing people. Raising my hand for all to see, because I totally do that. I recently dropped out of Columbia. No shame in that Ivy League dropout game. I was in school to be a therapist, but what I really learned was that I need therapy #GodBlessMyTherapist. Quitting has a bad rap. Like I can just hear my nana say, “you moved all the way across the country to Columbia and dropped out?! Your poor husband. He must be upset you made him move.” But umm, hold on a sec. Remember that one time I moved across the country for him?
So…am I really a quitter?
I didn’t give up or lack determination to finish school. I had the determination, and that was part of the problem. I didn’t want to let myself down or disappoint others. I didn’t want to be viewed negatively. I listened to the noise. I was in my therapist’s office every week for 5 months torn if I should quit school. I lost sleep. My anxiety was at an all time high. It’s a miracle I managed to keep up my grades and stay married. Leaving Columbia was the hardest and smartest decision I’ve ever made. I’m a loyalist…if I make a commitment to something, I’ll see it through, even if it means sacrificing my happiness. The last thing I ever want to do is disappoint. But what about me? What about my joy, my passion…my life? So, am I a quitter? You can call it that if you’d like, but to me, I didn’t quit…I CHOSE not to continue doing something I didn’t love and would result in a ton of debt if I finished…to move forward into joy and find my passion.
So let me ask you something. Have you changed your definition of quitter yet?
Before I jump into my decision, let’s make a promise to each other. A promise to stop judging other people’s decisions and choices. It’s natural to judge, but it can be one of the most hurtful things we do and keeps us from empathy, love, and true community. Benefit of the doubt…we need more of that.
I think the obvious place to start is to tell why I chose to go to Columbia in the first place.
The first things that pop into mind are meaning, purpose, stability, and just a reason…a reason for all the bad things I’d been through. I thought that maybe if I were a therapist, I could make meaning of my brother’s death. I mean, wasn’t there a reason that as a child I endured divorce after divorce, death after death, brokenness, and pain? I wanted to make it. I wanted to make people proud of me. I wanted people to think I was smart. As I went through the program, I realized that I didn’t need to be a therapist to make meaning out of my life. I also realized I dreaded going to class and felt like I was in acting school. Hello…didn’t participate in high school drama class for a reason.
I made my decision to leave Columbia in December, and I’ve been flat out terrified to share it. What would people think? I had already experienced disdain from family members and couldn’t possibly bear more. But this is my life. My future. My happiness. My choice. This was the first time I went through 6 months of extensive therapy. Learned that I used school as a crutch to hide from my problems and pain. My identity was in my achievements and what I thought others were thinking of me. My judgment had been clouded, keeping me from my purpose.
If I’ve made you think my life is perfect, girl, let me set the record straight. That is far from the truth. I struggle. I struggle with fear, anxiety, anger, and self-doubt. I struggle with body image, negative self-talk, and feeling like I’m not good enough. One of my biggest struggles? Understanding my purpose- who I was created to be. Everyone knows that one person that is so confident of who they are. They said they wanted to be a doctor from the time they were 4, and then we watched them do it. I believe it’s because that person drowned out the noise. People thought they were crazy, but they chose not to listen.
Sweet friend, my hope for you is that you drown out the noise of negativity in your life.
After I blamed everyone and their mom about why I struggled with my purpose, I decided to take a long look in the mirror. Who else was going to change me? For years I have spent precious energy comparing, achieving, desiring to make people proud that really didn’t care about me. I listened to the noise. “You can’t be a doctor, what about being a mom and having a family”. “You can’t be a counselor, look at how crappy our family is”.
But the worst thing I did was listen. I started telling myself I can’t. And the biggest lie I told myself was…I can’t change.
You see, my whole life I have been waiting on an “aha!” moment that was never going to happen. But then I kind of had one, although not as dramatic as I hoped. Come on, I can’t be the only one who’s looking for a dramatic revelation like Harry Potter when he realizes he must die in order to kill Voldemort. I wanted something revolutionary. But…
What if instead, I chose to tell my story.
I hope that by sharing my story, I’m able to help some of you who might be going through similar things. I also believe that when we share our stories, the darkness no longer has power over our life. Shoutout to Pinterest for this quote, “If you don’t get it off your chest, you’ll never be able to breathe”.
One last story. This past December after I decided to leave Columbia, I thought I had the answer to my purpose. I wanted people to think highly of me, so what did I do? Applied to 8 different PhD programs between New York and Virginia. My therapist kindly pointed out that I was being reactive and solving one issue with the same thing I had always used to run from problems…school. Oh, and caring too much about what other people thought of me. I was defensive. “She’s totally wrong about me. I mean how would she know?!”. Well, that’s what we pay our therapist for folks. About a month later I was like…wow I hate research. Another aha! Why do I want to spend my life doing something I’m not passionate about?
Now I’m choosing to make decisions without the noise. In my case, this involves therapy and understanding that God created me to be exactly that…ME. In case you need a reminder, you are WORTHY. You are loved and absolutely beautiful. You were created to SHINE, and I believe you will.
I’m choosing to give myself grace and know that the best is yet to come. Repeat that friend, THE BEST IS YET TO COME. We’ll get there eventually. The good news is, we’re better and closer today than we were yesterday and that’s all we should ever ask from ourselves.
Three Things That Helped Me:
1. Checking my thoughts. What do I spend most of my time thinking about? I found myself getting rattled with IG last week. Like girl… it is okay. Your worth is not in an app.
2. Who am I listening to? Do these people care about me or have my best interest in mind? Do I even know them?
3. Am I being reactive? What caused this response? Did I cool down? Talk to a trusted friend or therapist? Take time to process or did I impulsively act?
I’m actively working on these things and far from perfect. But just know you are not alone. I believe that in the discomfort, and the hardships, your truth will start to shine more and more every day…even if it feels like it’s getting darker.