It feels good to quit something that’s hard for about 10 minutes and then, especially if it’s something you really want, it feels bad every minute after that.
Tuesday felt like Quitsville for me. My brain was shouting loudly in my ear for most of the day with all the reasons why all my life goals are the dumbest goals anyone has ever thought up in the history of the world. And, dear reader, you might know the situation of which I speak because you too have spent a day with your brain bad-mouthing you.
I didn’t like it. It made me sad. I thought, “This is ridiculous. If I wave the white flag then maybe my brain will let me go home in peace and I’ll go back to hiding and behaving myself in quiet desperation and my brain will shut up because it finally got me to do what it wanted me to do.”
Seriously. Not my favorite day.
By around 4pm I was imagining myself asking for my old job back, cancelling all my future plans and boiling up some sweet corn to go with my microwaveable corndog (no one else was home for dinner that’s just where I was at, OK?).
And maybe I owe it all to the sweet corn.
Maybe I owe it all to the corndog.
Because as the water got to boiling and the corndog got to rotating on the glass plate behind the window of the microwave oven, I considered the implications of quitting.
Quitting only punishes me in this situation. Quitting marks the day Hope chose not to finish the story, the day she put the pen down, picked up her toys and walked back home. There was a time when the comment, “Quitting only lets yourself down.” made me feel sad. Why just me? Shouldn’t people who are cheering for me also feel sad when I choose to quit? That’s what I used to think.
Now I think I know what this human experience is like well enough to know that even my biggest fan and most beloved humans have so much on their own plates that it’s hard to extend that kind of mourning to another person.
Especially when the quit was voluntary. On a Tuesday. When I had enough to eat, a loving family, a corndog counting down to delicious in just 45 seconds and a bag full of sweet corn I didn’t have to share with anybody.
It’s true. If I quit, I’m only hurting myself. If I quit it’s because I wanted the quick fix of giving up more than I wanted the deliberate march to the sea- even if everything I touch turns to crap.
As I started buttering the first ear of corn, then salting and peppering that golden spear of sweet, crunchy possibility, I turned the corner. I was back online. Dudes, I’m not quitting until I have succeeded in making a royal fool out of myself and I am just getting started!
The notion of quitting was indulgent and stupid. About a year ago I came up with some goals that I wanted to achieve and I have been working toward them for months. I’ve noticed that when there’s a new border to cross, a new challenge to engage, the quitting voice inside my brain gets really really loud. I know it well. It knows me well. It knows exactly how to push my buttons and get me to lay down my sword (probably because the voice is me, you guys).
That’s what was going on on Tuesday pre-corn/corndog. By the time the corn was done and buttered I was mounting my defense. I was proudly remembering that, yes, I decide when the story is over and it’s not over yet. I’ve had a plan in my head for almost a year about how this thing is going down and I’ve decided I’m following it to the end even if the end is total disaster. And you know what? If I succeed or if I am grossly mistaken in following the plan, I am going to be so proud of myself because I didn’t quit. I might be working at the factory in the next town over for years to come in order to clean up my mess, but I’ll always say I saw my goals through to the very end and, even if other people see my dream as a failure, I’ll always see it as a triumph. So I’m not quitting.
You know what you need? You need some sweet corn, maybe a good old-fashioned walk around the block and a fellow traveler to tell you that the journey isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. You’re not any less worthy or capable just because you get frozen now and again by fear, worry and self-doubt. It happens to the best of us. The cool thing is that worry and self-doubt are always neon signs flashing to a brain desperately trying to keep you safe and keep you in the same place. Stepping out into new territory triggers that stupid brain voice, so consider yourself brave when the voices get louder. Consider yourself in motion because brains hate motion and give yourself a lackluster high-five, be patient, wait for the corndog of confidence to ding you back into your true identity and go do what you were called to do. We’re doing this. We’re totally doing this.