I’ve had an almost paralyzing fear of quitting for a long long time. When I quit the softball team in high school it was because I bruised my thumb badly (I didn’t know how to catch a giant ball.) and out of anger. The football coaches’ daughter, a chunky think chick with her dad’s face, got to sit out drills and play second. Unfair. I quit.
My father’s reaction was: You are a quitter aka failure aka why did I save all this money for you to go to college?
Sadly, most of my self-determination has actually been determined by my parents. The next sport I joined I did not quit even though I cried after practices and actively during events. Swimming and crying don’t mix. I actually did pretty good in the end until my mom told me to quit. Ironic, no?
Why am I writing this? Because I hate my parents? Unfair coaches? Chubby man-faced spoiled ladies? No, today I decided to drop the mic on my government job. No, no, I have not mentioned this to my parents. Why on earth do you ask?
For a long time now my friends have said, “Kate, you are funny. You should be a comic.” Actually, two friends said this a different times in the last week; but, I’m going to run with the idea that I’ve been hilarious FOREVER just to keep my delusions going. BTW, Rachel and Dan, this is all your fault. You are my new parents.
I’m not necessarily quitting to become a comic or an artist or something like that (trust me, I sent out about 15 applications tonight); but, I don’t want to sit in a office rotting anymore. I’ll rot outside the office with the marijuana salesmen, personal trainers and homeschooling parents. Wait. Wait. Suddenly, this doesn’t sound so good…
I have one more person I’d like to blame and that is Teddy Roosevelt, NPR and Tina Fey. Okay, that’s two people and one big organization- I’m writing this as it comes. Another friend sent me his life philosophy ala Theodore Roosevelt last week and it was bothering me fiercely all weekend,
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Over coffee I discussed this idea with my friends. The idea that you do what you want to do with your life and if you end up in a van down by the river it’s okay because you’re the badass who fought hard and landed on your face. Here I am, strengthening my face with grimace exercises and eyebrow raises.
NPR has recently done a bunch of stories on people who are failures and somehow end up where they need to be. I like this idea. A brain surgon was like, “Hey, Terry Gross, I paralyzed someone… but, I moved on from there.” That’s not a direct quote. Wow, is all I can think. Wow. I’m a serious wimp if I can’t leave my job and some other guy can seriously ruin someone’s life and roll with it. Also there are a few books like Fail Up, the Up Side of Down and Failing Forward. I feel like this new era of accepting that we are not perfect and that we bungle things all the time is really good for me and probably, better for brain surgeons and softball coaches, too.