An Abridged List Of All The Things I Have Quit

by robinhardwick

“Fail hard and fail fast.” [I’m paraphrasing] was the standout line in the recent (rebroadcast) episode “The Upside of Quitting” , of Freakonomics Radio. THIS is the kind of thing I want to hear. That if you are not good at something or don’t like it, just quit. This is a good antidote to the bullshit “if you try hard enough, and don’t give up, your dreams will come true” American-dream rhetoric that drives me insane.

Quitting feels shitty because you think about all the “sunk cost” you’ve already invested in what you are doing. But you know what? if you continue to do something you hate or are not good at, you’re just going to waste more time. There are, of course other factors involved, as in I can’t just quit my job, but I can quit the things that won’t affect me too much financially.

In honor of the fantastic Stephen J. Dubner / Steven Levitt who have made me feel better about all my quitting, here is a sampling of things I have quit in my life:

  • I quit going to birthday parties at Chucky Cheese because the people in costume freaked me out. (Well, not so much as quit but have major episodes at Chucky Cheese to where my mother got the hint and stopped taking me there)
  • I was on a town softball league when I was around ten years old. (Or, rather, my parents signed me up with the well-intentioned idea that it would help me socialize and become more athletic).  I begged them to let me stay home for a while. I was traumatized. Striking out in front of all my classmates and neighbors was absolute humiliation. Not giving a shit about winning or losing. I finally begged enough that my parents allowed me to quit. I don’t blame them, they were trying, right?
  • I decided to go for the physical hobby again at around fourteen and took tap and jazz lessons. I wasn’t good nor graceful. The girls in the class annoyed me. Quit after a three months.
  • I quit Girl Scouts because really, only the losers stayed in it after elementary school. [I secretly loved it, the uniforms and pageantry of it all, but I went with peer pressure and pretended to not want to do it.]
  • I quit being a camp counselor after four summers because…I was tired of screaming at kids and having to be in a damp bathing suit all day (why did we have swim in the morning and afternoon? Goddammit.)
  • I quit the Walt Disney World Internship halfway through because…well, that’s another story for another time. [Yes, I’ve been in the tunnels under the Magic Kingdom. No, they are not magical, they literally smell like garbage.]
  • I quit being an RA in college after one year because my residents were older than me and didn’t give a shit. (I also sort of did it for the single room.)
  • I quit playing the cello after my sophomore year of college, after playing for more than a decade. I was good enough, but didn’t have the family gene of being a talented magician. And I hated practicing alone- I much preferred playing in an orchestra or an ensemble. The conundrum was that I had to practice in order to do that, and I wasn’t up for it. Plus, a cello is a pain to lug around.
  • In 2001, I quit my Americorps Program two months before the end, forfeiting my 4K “reward” I would have gotten at the end.  I don’t regret that a bit. I could probably make up the 4K in the next to months at the new job I took that made me quit. (Also, I was a naive person who thought Americorps was something that was for me.)
  • I quit knitting because I couldn’t grasp how to make anything except scarves.
  • I quit cross-stitch because I got impatient with it.
  • I quit my fairly successful blog because I felt I had said all I needed to say about the topic.
  • Last year, I quit my Dungeons & Dragons group, probably too late. I liked to think that I was sort of the interesting person who liked such things. I found it boring. I spent many of the five-hour playing sessions wishing I was elsewhere.
  • I quit producing my first podcast.
  • I quit improv after four years of claiming it had transformed my life. I’m grateful for what it gave me, but I hung on to it a little too long to the point where I resented it.
  • Most recently, I quit screenwriting only after mere weeks. I was struggling to write for an audience I didn’t care about. Writing a screenplay that sells and follows the “rules” was an unappealing process. That being said, if someone has an idea and an outline, I’d be more into helping them develop it and write some dialogue.

I’ve failed a lot at writing. However, still not enough to make me quit yet because is continues to be worth the “sunk cost” it takes. Sure, I won’t ever pay my mortgage with it, but I can look forward to the nights and weekends I do it.