I'm a Quitter

When I resurrected this blog, I did so with the aim of sharing more of my real life and concerns. There were certain categories I was comfortable with sharing and others that made me vaguely queasy. If you know me well, this one might come as a surprise to you.

My name is Beth, and I am a quitter.

The Complete Quitter's Timeline

This time last year, I was living in Edmonton and employed at a hospital there. It was temporary, but paid well, and if I'd wanted to, I could probably have bounced around in clerical roles there for a decent length of time. But I quit.

Before this, I went to university for nursing. I quit in second year. I then transferred to health promotion, purely because it was the easiest shift to make based on my prior coursework. I quit during the final internship.

Next, I did a certificate in medical transcription. Didn't quit! Finished. Then decided not to really work in my field. That's where the job in Edmonton came in - using those skills, but not in a direct way. It dovetailed nicely with my decisions to quit church (much more on that in other posts to come) and quit Nova Scotia.

After quitting the hospital job, I quit Edmonton and unquit Nova Scotia. I decided I would pursue a health information management program (one of the better discoveries of my time in Edmonton). I began that this fall. And quit.

You see, it became apparent the material was a lot of review and there was no tuition break for exempting courses. I figured it was a lot of money to spend on half a program. From here, I thought, well, I could unquit Dal. Statistics could get me into health data, too.

It's October, and I have quit Dal. Turns out, I am rubbish at calculus and the prospect of finishing an arts degree only to be faced with yet another unknown (masters?) seemed rather daunting.

In the interim, I have realized that there is a distance HIM program I can take which (a) costs significantly less than either of my previous options and (b) gives further tuition breaks for exemptions. I have applied for next September

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I realize that listing it in this fashion makes it seem like I've spent ages 18-26 bouncing around leaving thing after thing unfinished and making no progress. That's what we associate quitters with - they have no drive, no integrity, and you can't depend on them.

But here's the thing: I have learned an incredible amount in the course of quitting.

(a) I have learned the value of putting in your best until you can't anymore. I moved programs, got into the one I finished, and got my Edmonton job with relative ease. Remember that HIM program I mentioned? I couldn't do it without references from former professors and bosses, and you know what? I haven't had any issues getting them. I also had no problem reapplying to university.

This is because, in every endeavour, I have given my best effort, and that's resulted in high marks and good relationships with superiors. When I choose to "leave" (they don't generally say quit because it has a negative connotation), my reasons are usually well understood and we part on good terms.

(b) I have learned that personality type is important, and it's better to work with it than against it. As someone with the "ability" to pursue higher education, I have conflated that with meaning I "should" be doing it. That is, if I can finish a bachelors, and a masters, why don't I? But this most recent foray into university has only confirmed that, while I enjoy the intellectual stimulation, I feel anxious and unhappy when I think about the kind of job I might have at the end of it.

In addition, my past experience tells me that I am committed and interested until a position no longer offers significant challenge. This means I will never be the person to stay in the same role, place, living situation for decades. My deepest, truest self wants to travel, write, do work for my communities (church, LGBTQ+ persons), and live a life that is meaningful. For me, that makes something like HIM a much better fit.

Now, don't get me wrong, the fact that I have "learned" this does not make it easy to carry out. On a daily basis I still deal with feeling inadequate for not wanting a prestigious, academic kind of life. My personality type has the added bonus of being able to see the validity of almost any viewpoint. As I recently told a dear friend, it's like I can see all these possible selves beckoning to me from different roads, and each one is as intriguing and worth following as the others.

(c) I have learned that God is looking out for me. I remember when I first quit nursing. I couldn't believe what I was doing, and it took severe physical anxiety to get me to even make the decision. But it was okay. A few years later, I listened to God when directed to be open and honest about my identity and to accept that that would mean leaving a church and community I loved. And it was okay. It has been ever since. In the same way that we sometimes test our relationships with people around us ("Yeah, but would you stay if ___?"), my experiences in quitting have proven over and over that I am not alone.

(d) I have learned that I grow much more in recognizing what doesn't work for me. If I never had poor experiences or acknowledged that better things might be out there, I would have no reason to challenge myself. I would still be committing energy to dead ends rather than open roads. So even though it's hard, I choose to quit.

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Now that I've poured out my deepest insecurities, I want to end by explaining a bit about my definition of quitting.

First, as you might have noticed, the majority of these decisions affected me the most. I took great care to explain to loved ones and those invested in me in other ways why I was quitting, so that my decisions to quit weren't harmful to those around me.

I also quit before I am fully compromised - that is, if a situation is bad, or I am struggling, I try to make that clear before, again, I am causing harm by remaining in it. For example, I am currently dealing with a situation in which I believe my viewpoint might be compromising my contributions/leadership in a group. I need to consider this fully and consider stepping back to allow others forward.

I also try to have some next plan on the horizon when I quit things. This is necessary for my own mental health, and also an acknowledgement of how the world works. I can't just stop functioning. There have been enough things now, though, that I have learned to frame it as, "Oh. Look at all these options I have!" ;)

Last, I consider it very important to engage in a mourning process. As I said, for most of these situations, I was strongly invested in the action and its outcomes. Quitting meant leaving behind several future me's along the way - the nurse, the health promoter, the transcriptionist, the straight Christian, the scholar... etc. For all I know, some of these might still happen in the future, but I have decided for the time being not to actively pursue them. That is a loss, and one worth mourning and putting into perspective.

Thank you for reading, and I hope this was helpful to someone.

Halloween Tree

09.16 No hard feelings