My entire life, I’ve been known to try things, give up on them, and then quit them altogether. I know what you’re thinking… you need to keep trying something to get better at it, but I’ve never been the type to listen to other people… Oh and I hate failure, there’s that too.
When I was about four years old, my parents enrolled me in dance class. That’s when it all started. I’m not sure why my parents chose to enroll me in ballet. I guess they loved how I looked in my pink tutu with my blond curls. People would say I look “like an angel, but I was never graceful enough to dance “like an angel.” With a few weeks, when it was apparent that my two left feet were never meant to be a ballerina, the teacher told me parents that I should quit. She told me that they were wasting their money, and I didn’t have any potential as a dancer. Perhaps they should enroll me in art class?
When I was nine, my Aunt Shari took me to see my first Broadway musical in New York City. We saw “A Secret Garden.” I loved it. After we saw it, I spent many hours in my room recording myself singing the songs loudly on my tape recorder. When a local theater group posted a sign for auditions for “Annie,” I told my parents that I wanted to try out. I spent hours in my room, listening to the soundtrack over and over again. When I auditioned, I wanted to sing the best rendition of “Tomorrow” that they ever heard.
The audition finally came around. I sat in the waiting room with hundreds of girls my age. Some of them were even wearing the signature red wig. They called my name. I went in, and thought I was awesome. I even got a callback. A few days later, I found out that I got the role of “nameless orphan number 5.” I mean it wasn’t the lead, but it was a start. I was sure after I got a musical or two under my belt, I would be the next big thing… Maybe I could even audition to be young Cosette in Les Misérables. This was the start of something big, I just knew it.
When I was fourteen, I finally gave up on acting. My career just wasn’t going anywhere. My theater friends had graduated from “nameless ensemble member number 2” to real lead roles such as Peter Pan in “Peter Pan” or Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” and I was still nameless, and my two left feet weren’t helping. Oh well, time to move on to something else, like sports.
When I was in ninth grade, I played soccer. My soccer phase lasted for about two years. It wasn’t that I minded being on the bench so much, it gave me a lot of time to appreciate nature and the changing trees. The coach was probably just giving everyone playing time. But then in the fall of my junior year, when all the underclassmen were supposed to be promoted from JV to Varsity, he left me on JV and promoted a bunch of sophomores instead. Oh well, track and field sounded more interesting anyway.
In eleventh grade, my best friends Cat and Juliet wanted me to take choir as my fine arts elective. The choir was going on a cruise over the spring break. They were both super excited about it, it was going to Bermuda and Nassau, but it was only open to choir and band members. Instruments were never really my thing, especially after a failed attempt to learn clarinet during fifth grade, but I could sort of sing…. I mean I did play numerous “name ensemble members” throughout several musicals. Choir would be the same thing, so I signed up for it.
During the first week of choir practice, the teacher had each of us audition so she could figure out what our range was. After my audition, she looked at me and told me I had a very unusual voice that had a lot of potential, but I would need several private lessons to reach that potential. Well, I had no time for that in-between cross-country practice and track practice, so I decided to quit choir and transfer to woodworking. Besides, my Spanish IV class that year was planning a trip to Madrid that summer, and drinking sangria in the Plaza Mayor cave bars sounded a lot better than singing weird songs in foreign languages to older people on a boat. And there were no “private lessons” that I needed to join that trip instead.
During my senior year, I had to go to my college orientation in May. I decided to enroll in Kutztown University with the intent to be a special education and elementary education major. During the orientation, we had to meet with our advisors to help pick the courses that we would take during freshman year of college. My advisor sat down with me and looked over my student file and noticed that I had a documented learning disability. He told me that most people, who have any sort of disability, whether it be dyslexia or dyscalculia probably weren’t going to be successful as an education major because it was very demanding. Well okay, I decided right then and there to change my major. Clinical Psychology sounded more like my jam anyway.
I decided to join the university’s track team. I was good enough to make state for hurdles during my senior year, and I was sure I’d fit right into Kutztown’s team. After about two weeks of practice, I decided it wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t that I was the slowest runner, it was just too demanding of my time. Not only did I have a practice every day from 4 to 6, but I also had to go to study hall, two days a week from 7 pm to 10 pm. That interfered with my college experience. How the hell could I attend parties with my friends if I was always in practice or at study hall? So, I quit that too and spent my nights learning how to play “Circle of Death” and “Asshole” at various parties on Main Street. That was a much better use of my free time.
For the most part, life was pretty much that. I would start new hobbies. They included but were not limited to making beaded bracelets, making friendship bracelets out of floss, learning to play magic the gathering, digital photography editing, and collage making, but I would get bored of those after awhile, and quit. Then I would just move on to something else that seemed less challenging.
In 2014, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. It was detected very early. It was at stage zero, but even stage zero had serious consequences. To get rid of cancer, I would have to get a complete hysterectomy. If I got a complete hysterectomy, I could never have biological children. I had just gotten engaged to my boyfriend at the end of the previous year, and now our future was completely changing, for once it was out of my control. For once, something quit on me, instead of me quitting on it.
My life changed after that. I didn’t like not being in control, and I didn’t like the idea of something else making my important decisions for me. It was time to stop being a quitter.
One of the first big steps I made was when Justin and I went to Utah to visit the national parks in winter. Our third park on the trip was Bryce Canyon. We really wanted to experience the national park, but none of the hikes were beginner-friendly. I spent the entire night reading the internet, obsessing over the hike and wondering if we could even do it. Or would we die of hypothermia at the bottom of a canyon? I googled hike reviews, hiking blogs, and read all the information about the hike we were thinking of doing. The hike to Queen’s garden had a descent of 357 feet and to get from the bottom of the canyon, we would have to ascend 550 feet on narrow switchbacks. We were pretty close to saying “fuck it” and just visiting the gift store, getting our passports stamped, and calling it a day. But no, we were determined. I mean, if we could kick cancer’s ass, we could do a hike, right?
It was one of the hardest hikes we’ve ever done. I tried to ignore the pessimistic voice in my head by blasting prog rock as we started the hike. When we got to the switchbacks, I was determined. I took them slowly, as in, I complained the entire way up a switchback, rested for like ten minutes before I attempted another, but I did it. For the first time, in basically my entire life, I didn’t quit something because it was too challenging or out of boredom.
My new hobby is painting. I’ve really been enjoying virtual “paint and sips.” I’ve spent so much money on canvas and acrylic paint that I could own my own art store. I tried to follow along and paint a picture of the Northern Lights last night. I’m really not sure what it looked like by the end. It looked like very colorful abstract art. I’ll never post it on Instagram because I don’t want anyone to see how bad it is. But do you know what? That’s okay, I’ll just pick another painting tomorrow. Maybe that one will turn out decent. I’m done being a quitter.