Last week I quit a book.
The subject seemed so interesting when I picked it out at the library, but I had slugged through barely 130 pages in three weeks. For someone who reads an average of four or five books a month, I had spent almost all of October on a third of one book.
Not only was I not enjoying the book, I was also being hard on myself every time I picked it up, thinking about things like how slow I was reading and how little information I felt like I was absorbing from it. (Amazing the things we can find to critique ourselves on!)
And then someone suggested I stop. They said it so casually - “pick a different book.” I was appalled. I’ve never quit a book!
Why was I being so hard on myself about not enjoying or finishing this random book I selected?
The same reasons that I (and maybe you as well) keep doing things we don’t enjoy:
I’ve thought before about redefining terms and events before (like failure and success), so out of curiosity I looked up the definition of quit.
Nowhere in any of those definitions does the word failure show up.
Quitting is simply leaving something that is normal or expected. In the archaic definition it actually means that you’re behaving in an expected way.
We have built quitting up to be a statement of our abilities and drive. You quit a job? You must be lazy. You quit teaching? You must not care about your craft.
But really, quitting can be a testament to our drive. If you leave a job that is no longer challenging you, or is taking you away from more important goals, are you failing or are you growing?
If you quit teaching because it isn’t fulfilling are you failing or are you providing an opportunity for yourself and your former students to grow?
Of course we can quit and be lazy, but those of us who are musicians are not usually making decisions out of laziness. Often, we have so many jobs that we meet ourselves coming and going. We’re taught as students to say yes to everything, and we subconsciously decide that if our job list isn’t as long as possible we are failing.
Like most things, we could benefit from defining quitting for ourselves. There are endless, healthy reasons to leave a place or cease a behavior that have nothing to do with laziness.
I’ve read a book and a half since I “quit” my boring book last week.
Perhaps we should quit more often.
Hi, I'm Morgann! Flutist, teacher, aspiring yogini, and life long learner figuring out how to create my way through life one crazy idea at a time.