html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Anyway, I signed up for Fall League.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Anyway, I signed up for Fall League.

I never quit things. Never. I do things for years longer than I should. If I once chose an activity, I keep at it. I plod, and I don't stop. I dimly realize that this isn't as fun as it once was. I don't really notice that it is no fun at all. Things finally end when the term is finished or the collapse is unmistakable. I don't seem to register the misery, or at least think that misery is a good reason to stop doing something.

I didn't like tkd for at least three years before I stopped. I always hurt. I was hungry for five months of the year. My teammates were largely arrogant and I didn't have anything in common with them, besides the three hours a day we spent together. I rarely saw my master. Our coach hit us with sticks. I cried on the walk home and went back the next day. I only stopped because I graduated. If undergrad had gone longer, I'd have done tkd for longer.

My ex and I dated for seven years. I'd say the mutual love and delight was over after the fourth year; it ebbed and flowed unevenly between us after that. I didn't consider ending it, though. I ultimatumed him to make it last, not to make it end. Second grad school was awful by the second year, and I trudged through class after class for two more years. I didn't even decisively end the program; I just didn't return after a year's withdrawal after finishing the master's. I cannot think of a time when I assessed my situation and quit because it was making me unhappy.

Except once. In '96 I tried to go on a month-long bike ride, all around California. I bought all the gear. I started in SF and three days later I'd ridden up to the Russian River. It was beautiful. But it was lonely; no one had been able to get off time to go with me. And it wasn't fun. There was no one to talk to, point things out, figure out where to camp with. My friends met me to go camping that weekend and I drove home with them. I even decided. The ride was recreation, for me; there were no other stakes. If it wasn't going to be affirmatively fun, I wasn't going to do it. I'm still kindof bummed that I didn't get to see California by bike, but I think that I am prouder of quitting that trip than I would have been for finishing it.

So I'm asking you. You irresponsible flakes who constantly try things then quit them. Y'all who can't stick with anything long enough to finish it. You dabblers and butterflies. Even you sulkers who stalked off in a huff. How do you do it? I would like an option, so that every single thing I choose isn't a multi-year commitment, closing in a miserable forced march. What is quitting things before they are awful like?

25 Comments:

Anonymous Ennis said...

You are willing to quit things, you just have a hard time quitting things that involve commitments to other people. The solo activity you did you were perfectly happy to assess as wanting and stop doing.

Think back - what have you quit that involved other people, and how did you do that? Did you find something else you were committed to (a sort of serial monogamy) so you had an excuse?

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor said...

I don't know. I'm with you, Megan -- it somehow never quite occurs to me that I can get out of bad situations. I did volleyball in high school with horrible people and exhausting workouts, and wouldn't have stopped if they hadn't sort of made me (I became a senior, so I couldn't have played junior varsity, but I wouldn't have made it).

I think this is related to my NEVER having asked for an extension for a project in college, even if I probably needed one. I just sucked it up and said "Oh well, I guess I'll get a mediocre grade on this project. I didn't finish it in the time allotted." Somehow alternatives never cross my mind.

1:49 PM  
Blogger scott said...

I would respond but I stopped reading in the middle of the second paragraph.

Why? I'll tell you. I think it's because I can never seem to...

You know what, screw this. I'm outta here.

Hello, Megan.

P.S. - I actually read the whole thing and enjoyed it. Here's my thing: If' I don't enjoy something and don't HAVE to do it, I quit. Period. It's that simple. I'm not talking about responsibilities, just other activities.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hello Scott.

Eleanor understands. There is only the path and you chose it, so you keep going.

Ennis, I ran out the terms of anything that involved other people, or it finally all broke down.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've changed a lot since that bike ride. Tyler has a lot to say about taking the quitting thing to extremes... I'm not sure I could ever do it though.

Do you not expect League to be as fun as it used to? Is there an age difference or lack of friendly connections? Could you... take it to the next level, in order to access the people who have been doing it for a long time and are thus older?

There are semi-professional marching bands, like college but unaffiliated, traveling, continuing the experience that they all loved in highschool, I guess. It's all good until they age out, and then the party ends.

Maybe I feel that I can't quit things that easily either, but in many cases I convince myself this is because there are no other alternatives.

-AS

2:29 PM  
Anonymous D said...

"What is quitting things before they are awful like?" - M
It's like defining your intention to complete an activity by another measure. It is easy to allow a rule of some sort to externally decide what completion is. Follow the recipe and take out of the oven when the bell sounds. It's just that there isn't a reason to finish baking if you realize halfway trhough that you used too much water. What you get may/mayn't be edible, but it will have a hard time being a cake.

The catch? It's scary. You may not have the experience to feel confident in the new choice, becasue it's obvious that the previous choice was bad.

Your intent matters. If you are willing to cede control to inertia, then you only wake up as a matter of survival, when it has become to painful. If you decide to change course because you can see that it will become bad, you risk being wrong. More importantly IMHO you take responsibility for being. Right or wrong. Either way you are on the hook for it.

Naturally that makes it sound easy... and human beings seem to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, in extremity. But what I found trudging in the same rut for years, it was deadening. Jumping out of it was like jumping a crevasse... it's only you baby, and you can rely on only yourself. It can make you terrified or alive, or both.

Also? what ennis said...
When you are taking responsibility for someone else, or your move will affect someone else profoundly, the stakes are SOmuch higher. It can paralyze. I hung on in marriage for years for precisely that reason... but I figured my children would be better with me a happy person than a miserable one, after I did everything possible to revive the relationship. The post mort on it was brutal. It's never pleasant having a number of people show you how much denial ain't just a river.

You have to own that to.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, wait, you're finally sick of ultimate?

You should take up new hobbies. I'm going to Tuolumne this weekend to hike, and climb easy stuff.

And, it's almost snow camping/mountaineering season. You wanna come snow camping with us? I think some other girls might come this year.

Justin

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Dex reaches for his psycho-analyst hat.)

You're an uber-extrovert. I'm sure our view is skewed by the way you present yourself here, but you don't seem to ever do anything alone. To you, everything is about other people and your relationships with them -- even people that aren't your friends and that you dislike.

Not bashing you here -- that's just the way you are, as hard as it is for me and the other introverts to understand.

But it likely goes beyond that. You likely have a relationship with the activity itself, outside of the people you do it with. If suddenly, the people at ultimate were all different, would it make a difference? What if all of the ultimate people started playing...disc golf instead?

--Dex

2:51 PM  
Anonymous YK said...

I have the opposite problem, actually. I'm fine with quitting things, but it's hard for me to start something new. I'm timid when it comes to learning the ropes and making all the stupid mistakes. So I usually talk myself out of it, convince myself it'll never work. Then, later, I wish I'd tried it anyway.

But quitting, now, that's easy. If things aren't going well, or it's time for me to move on, then quitting is easy, and it has a neutral feeling. The only time when quitting is hard is when it might hurt someone else, or when it involves stopping an activity that has become habitual.

2:58 PM  
Blogger dgm said...

It's easier to quit now that I'm older because I value my time more. If I'm not loving the thing, why would I waste my time? I used to force myself to read books I started even if I didn't enjoy them. Then one day I thought, "that is stupid! Why waste my time on something for which there is no real payoff?" There are so many better ways to spend my time.

Now, if the commmitment involves others, that's maybe a different story (but not always).


Point is, you have to know when to fold 'em.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Good question.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left a high school a year early. One of my good friends was doing it, too. I claimed that it was because my school had budget problems and was going to cut activities I enjoyed, but I really just liked the idea of being done with high school. I went off to college and became much, much happeir, so I think it was the right choice.

I also changed jobs a year ago, after spending six years at an organization that was great in a lot of ways and incredibly frustrating in others. It took me a year of applying for jobs before I got a new one. Now I love my job, and I can't believe I stayed at the other place for so long.

The theme here is replacing a not-so-great situation with a better one. This could work well for activities - you quit the league because you need the time for your cool new hobby - but I don't recommend it for relationships.

- Liz

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just can't force myself to keep going if I hate it. If I don't like it then I don't go. If I miss it then I go back. It's not like you have to quit permanently. Sometimes you just take a week break and then it sounds fun again.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous eleanor said...

"The theme here is replacing a not-so-great situation with a better one....but I don't recommend it for relationships." --Liz

I might be totally missing Liz's point here, but I do recommend it for relationships. I know several people who were in a really good almost-right relationship, but ended it to make room for a much better relationship. These people have indeed found someone who fits them better (all except for me... I did the making room part and am still waiting).

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

My quitting story ...

As the start of high school approached, I was all excited about trying out for the football team. My father had been captain of his college football team and had had tryouts with a couple NFL teams, so it was more or less understood that I'd try to follow in his footsteps. I practically drove my friends in 8th grade crazy with all my "I'm gonna be a football star!" talk.

Reality proved rather less exciting. Football practices started with some running, no more than a mile, but I was so hopelessly out of shape that running a mile was a sheer impossibility (today it's a breeze, but things were different then, and besides there aren't any football teams for middle-aged men). I invariably had to walk, all gasping and red-faced and out of breath, after the first quarter-mile or so, and the other kids took to slapping me on the back of my head as they lapped me. As you can imagine, football practice was hell on Earth, and I quit after a week. I never tried out for any other teams during the remainder of my high school and college years.

And yet, to this day, more than (gulp!) 30 years later, I still wonder how things might have turned out had I been in better shape and stuck with football rather than quitting. I doubt I ever would've been a star of the high school team or gotten a college scholarship, but maybe, just maybe, the experience of being part of a team would have changed the way I developed in a social/emotional sense and made me into a different person today. No one will ever know, and in a way that sucks.

So, to get to my point after this long-winded discourse, while quitting something too late has its downside, so does quitting too soon.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sunk costs are sunk.

They don't give awards for ploughing forward with something you don't enjoy.

What the most annoying thing about the President? His refusal to admit he made a mistake and make a correction. (I find this even more annoying than his poor judgment in the first place). I've thoiught for years that he views difficulties in the road as tests of his resolve by the Almighty. If he'll just see it through, then he'll be rewarded. This is not how reality works for him, for us, or for you.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous margie said...

I was thinking about the 7 years you devoted to your ex-boyfriend and it occurred to me that that's why you're supposed to get engaged at the end of year 1 and get married at the end of year 2. So two years into your marriage, when you're feeling a little ambivalent about the person, you're already married and inertia takes over. I was not thinking, "wow, he really wasn't right for her." Did you ever look him in the eye and ask, why can't i quit you?

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Helen said...

Everything I take on is a serious commitment to me. But I expect the same return from the people involved in whatever I'm doing. It's not fair because I set expectations for other people without their consent and when they don't meet them I leave.

I joined this group over a year ago. I got on the board, wrote a plan to expand membership, etc. And nothing I did was taken seriously or responded to by the leadership or the membership. So I tried a couple of more times and then decided it wasn't worth my time. I was all in, if the rest of them were able and willing to meet me half way.

But they weren't. So I left.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

Reframing helps. Think in terms of opportunity costs. Continuing on with something doesn't recoup sunk costs (nothing can) and it is costly in terms of other things you could be doing at that time.

Imagine your decision to continue doing something as a choice between the thing you are doing and something else you would really love to do. Would you still chose it?

Another point has to do with whether you lose your relationships with people you want to stay close to when you switch activities ...

4:14 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Repeat the following phrase over and over until you believe it:

"Just because I'm stopping now doesn't mean I made a mistake when I started in the first place."

At least, that helps me a lot. Also:

"I've tried everything I can to make this work."

4:22 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

Agree with the previous comment about sunk costs being sunk.

Here is an exercise I personally find useful: Take a piece of notepaper, fold it in half the long way, and write all the reasons you can think of to continue an activity/relationship/etc. on the left side and all the reasons you can think of not to on the right. Be honest and thorough. If the number and/or importance of the reasons on the right outweigh the ones on the left then it's pretty clear what you should do, and I think having the visual evidence to support your decision should make it easier for you.

You might also try practicing abandoning things you don't like on a small scale. Stop reading a book, walk out of a movie, throw away a cookie if the first bite isn't good enough, etc. Make a habit of the process of frequently reassessing whether something is good for you and quitting it if it isn't, and it might be easier to apply it to the larger decisions.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

Or you could ask your close friends, the ones who really know you, whether you are nuts to keep doing something at this point.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

People like you and me are sometimes called "change averse." Usually I hate that about myself, but there are good things that come with it, too.

I'm having issues with going back to work after maternity leave because I feel like I've been going on inertia for a long time and going back there will only highlight it. I imagine a scenario like Liz describes, where I leave and then wonder what took so long.

But I know why I do this staying-on thing... it's because I like being in the old guard, I like the way it feels to be knowledgeable about something or someplace, even if it's just knowing where the coffee is or knowing which IT guy to go to. It allows me to focus more on the work or play at hand, rather than feeling self-conscious about being a newbie.

So that's one part. The other thing is that I (and maybe you) know that quitting something leaves a vacuum. So we're maybe more worried about the vacuum than the original thing. Vacuums are lonely and weird. And nobody wants to jump from a frying pan into a fire, either. Like, if I leave my job, I would like to go somewhere better rather than worse. And that's hard to find. But that's probably just an excuse.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous doctorpat said...

To put it simply:

Don't quit something old. Start something new.

Except I don't see how you can do that with romantic relationships. How can you start a new relationship to the point of knowing that it is better, without betraying the old relationship?

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ultimate is fun! But sometimes other ultimate players are not, making the decision of whether to play a complicated one. I suggest a pick-up-only strategy as a solution. I've found that ultimate pick-up is much more enjoyable than ultimate league-play, if only because, in pick-up, no one can remember what the score is.

Marco

10:37 AM  

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