Just Say No


I have this problem with quitting something once I’ve started it. I don’t know where it comes from. If it’s something that takes a commitment, like school or a job, I can’t quit once I’ve started. The thought of it bothers me.

This is a good thing in some ways. It helps me stick to things, not give up easily when I lose interest or it’s hard or I get tired. At the same time, it’s a bad thing, because it makes me stick to things I hate, convincing myself that it’s good for me and lying to myself about how much I really dislike it.

I finally did something about this problem. I quit a job for the first time in my life for a reason other than moving out of town.

I quit the symphony in the neighboring state, the one that involves the commute in blizzards and the extra-long evenings. I knew as soon as I went to the first rehearsal for my first concert since going back to school that playing in the symphony was a bad idea. I knew I wouldn’t get my homework done, knew I’d be tired, knew my neck would hurt.

I was right about all of those things. It took me a week to catch up on my homework, I missed two classes that week, my neck was so bad I could barely play the concert, and I’m just now getting over being tired from that week even though two other weeks have happened since then.

I quit a job. For no other reason than that I’m too busy now and didn’t want to do it anymore. I see that as progress for me, since it’s so hard for me to quit things that have a commitment. I’m not sure I’ve ever done it before.

I’ve also kind of created an out of control monster. I keep wondering if I should quit other things, think about what I could do instead of teaching, wonder if wildlife biology is for me or if I should switch to English or journalism. The words “Don’t quit your day job” keep coming to mind. I need to slow down, not dwell on how awesome it felt to finally say no to something, and just keep doing what I’m doing.

Things are balanced now. I still get fed up with teaching sometimes, my neck still hurts when I play in the local symphony, and I still don’t like being a 28-year-old in classes filled with teenagers, but at least I have time for everything, and I’m doing two of the things that I supposedly love. Teaching and playing.

And I think I’m figuring out that I do love those things. Maybe I don’t love teaching violin, or just don’t love teaching all my students, but I do love teaching.

I love playing. Playing on an injury makes it hard, and sometimes I hate it because it hurts and I feel kind of (stupidly) like my body turned on me to prevent me from doing it, but there are times when I do still love it. I have to remember those times, because I have a pretty strong feeling now that I’d regret it if I quit orchestras altogether. I wouldn’t know for sure unless I did it, but if I did it there would be no going back.

Some days I feel really lost, like I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. Like if I’m going to spend all this money and time going back to school, I should feel more sure that I want to do wildlife than I sometimes do.

Then there are the days I want to get in my car and drive to Alaska and hide. Yes, DRIVE to Alaska. I want to do it someday. Sometimes I just think it should happen now. I miss it even though I was only there for a few days. I dream of going to Fairbanks in winter and freezing my ass off. It’s a happy daydream that I wish I could make a reality right now. I don’t know why, but the thought of going to Alaska makes me feel like everything will be okay. As long as I can actually go.

I don’t know why I constantly feel like I don’t want to be where I am. I have this nagging feeling sometimes that I can’t live in this town, or even this state, forever. I’ve lived in Colorado since I was 2. That’s 26 years. And I’ve only considered leaving in the last year or so. And I would probably only leave to go to Alaska. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it, but I kind of have a feeling that I will. Eventually. Or maybe it’s just part of that daydream.

A part of saying no to things is to say yes to other things. When I said no to that symphony, I was saying yes to moving on, to having more time, to making a decision, to choosing to change something that I thought I would be too scared to change. Aside from that, I was thinking ahead to the possibility that if I’m not playing in that orchestra, maybe I’ll be able to start practicing solo music again. Maybe I’ll enjoy the orchestra I’m still in more. Maybe I will learn to love what I’m doing again without all the uncertainty that I’ve been feeling for years.

As I write this, I feel like things are okay even though I know I haven’t really answered any of my questions. I’m still not sure what the hell I want to do with my life or where I want to do it, but at least I’ve reminded myself that I have some ideas. I’m not floating totally lost in space like it feels like sometimes. I have plans. Whether they’ll ever go anywhere is the only question.

Then there’s writing. I opened my behemoth document for the first time in about 3 weeks today. I didn’t get around to writing anything new, or rewriting anything, but I did edit a little bit. It’s a start.

There have been days in the last few weeks where I haven’t thought about my story once. Which is bizarre since I usually think about it for a good part of every day. Sometimes I miss it so much that I want to quit school just so I can have time to write again. Which I know is silly, but that monster story has become so important to me that I really do take how much time I have to work on it into consideration whenever I try something new.

I can’t help it. I feel like, with everything in my life that is changing and uncertain, that story is the only thing I have that feels right. The only thing that really belongs to me, without any uncertainty.

Aside from my husband, of course. He’s back in school, too, and doing a little better academically and a lot better mentally than I am. He isn’t going crazy. He doesn’t want to run away. He doesn’t cry at the end of every week.


I suppose I better just end what may be my most random post to date by saying that I wish I could record the thoughts I have during the days I’m sad, because they seem to mean more than the thoughts I have on good days. Unfortunately, I don’t think about doing that when I’m sad.

So then you get rambling stuff like this.


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