Be patient, Cha Cha. It’s only been a few months. Keep going! Don’t quit now.
It’s not my fault that I’m frustrated. — or maybe it is, but this is nothing new. I’ve quit almost everything I’ve started since I was a child.
Who’s on First
Some of my first memories are of quitting. I managed to quit soccer while I was still on the team.
I have a fleeting memory of eight-year-old Cha Cha standing in the defense position on the field. Only I wasn’t paying attention to the game.
Instead, I’d developed my own game. While the other kids ran after one another, I stood in place and spun around in circles until I was so dizzy that the field and parental spectators looked like blurred lines. Then, I’d stop suddenly, dizzy as f*ck, and try to find the ball as fast as possible.
Eventually, the coach stopped asking me to play. I was relieved to sit out the second half, gorging myself of the leftover orange slices.
Play that Funky Music
When sports proved to be “not my thing”, I moved on to music. I played the piano (read: keyboard), the clarinet, and the violin. Not all at the same time. And not for very long.
First, there was the keyboard. My parents hired Kathy, a cooky lady with a cat who smelled like stale coffee, who came to our house once a week to sit with me at the plastic ivories.
I made Kathy laugh with my over-the-top dramatics, anything to distract from having to learn and play more difficult pieces. Did I take lessons for a few months? Or maybe even a year? I don’t remember. Just like I don’t remember how to play the piano beyond a one-handed rendition of the Mexican Hat Dance.
Next, I started and quit the violin. Quitting seemed like the obvious outcome after my violin was got stolen from outside of my elementary school music room. My parents had to pay for the missing instrument. To this day, we don’t know what happened to it.
Then, with all the this-I-won’t-quit passion I could muster, I took up the clarinet. I told my parents it was the instrument I wanted to play all along. (Third and fourth graders were restricted to the orchestra: aka violin or cello. But fifth graders could join the band.)
I played the clarinet until my cheeks hurt. Then, I quit that too.
Cut! That’s a wrap
By middle school, I was sport-less and instrument-free. Now, I was interested in acting and musical theater. That revelation quickly ended, however, when my family insistently reminded me that “we” can’t sing. If we couldn’t sing, we probably couldn’t act either.
After an eighth-grade production of The Wiz where a played a non-speaking munchkin, I hung up my half-baked thespian ambitions and never looked back.
The Nerdy Wordy
In high school, I finally found something I was not only good at but enjoyed as well: writing for the school newspaper. In my senior year, I was promoted to Opinions editor. For each edition, my Opinions spread showcased a seasonal theme with articles written from both the pro and con point of view.
I fit in with the journalism gang. We editors would spend one Saturday a month putting together the new issue. These days were filled with puns and practical jokes that only the nerdy wordy would appreciate.
Perhaps I was so conditioned at quitting that it never occurred to me that writing opinion pieces was something I truly enjoyed and wanted to get better at. Why else would I have chosen a college whose newspaper was smaller and less circulated than my high school edition?
You know, it wasn’t until years after I graduated college that the thought even occurred to me. Why didn’t I keep writing?
Euphemism: Fresh Start
Last week, I turned thirty-seven. The compound interest of my quitting years is starting to pile up.
I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. I have no hobbies. I’m just a sassy gal from New York who moved to California on a whim because she hated winter and her parents were driving her crazy.
I’ve quit pretty much everything I’ve ever started. But now, I’m quitting quitting.
This is a fresh start for Cha Cha. We’re leaving all those disappointing decisions in the past, and moving on to a more productive and focused future.
After years of saying I wanted to learn Spanish, I am actually learning Spanish! Every Wednesday at 2 pm, three other women and I meet our meastra (teacher) and hablamos espñol. I also practice speaking every day with DuoLingo on my phone. Yo soy una mujer. It’s about time I start acting like one. Women don’t quit. (At least not in my euphemistic mind.)
And, after years of saying I was a writer but not actually writing, I am quitting that too. This is my fresh start as a writer who writes.
I am no longer a quitter.
I am a beginner.
Be patient, Cha Cha. It’s only been a few months. Keep going and you’ll see, everything will be better because this time you didn’t quit.