Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quitters sometimes win

A.J. and John (not pictured) workLast night, I had a nightmare -- a screaming, crying, ghastly nightmare -- that I'd quit school and was dealing with the aftermath, including massive debt, a bleak future, homelessness, the loss of my disappointed New Haven friends, and deep regret. When I awoke, I was very relieved to still be in school. In real life, of course, I'd never dream of quitting school! Well, except that I did last night. But I'd never do it. Sure, sometimes obligations and pressures are coming at me like a fire hydrant in the gut. (As I write this, I'm at school; it's nearly midnight on Sunday. I've been working since shortly after I awoke at 6 a.m.) But even a fire hydrant in the gut has its value ... like forcing you to flex your abdominal muscles. Metaphors are, like, not really my thing.

I may have planted the seeds of this quitting dream by stepping down from two commitments recently. One was the The Dean's Diversity Task Force. Last year, I stepped onto it to fill a slot for first-year members of Q+, our LGBT club at the business school (of which I am now a co-leader). I was supposed to stay on and assume the second-year slot this year, but I decided to hand it off to someone else in Q+. I did this partly because I felt like I was hogging the gay hats. But also I knew I wasn't going to have time to contribute to the task force effectively with all my other activities. Besides, tasks and force are, like, not really my thing.

The other thing I dropped was being a TA this spring for the first-years' HR class ("Employee"), but I quit that against my will, and with immense sadness. It turns out I cannot TA it because doing so would put me over the maximum number of hours a full-time student can do paid work for the university. It sucks, but these rules probably exist to protect the mental wellbeing of people like me who are bad at calculating the number of hours in a day. And as much as I love being a TA this quarter, it is serious work. And it's where having been an editor is both a blessing and curse, as I think I have some value to contribute, but I end up spending 20 minutes on each paper. With nearly 30 papers to grade, that's 10 hours, easy.

When I was in high school, my friend Jasmine -- now an anchor and reporter for the CBS station in St. Louis -- did an oratory for forensics. The title was "It's OK to quit." When I'm exhausted, I sometimes hear her saying those words in my mind. I think it's especially OK to quit when quitting gives someone else an opportunity to join. That's the case with the task force. It's definitely not the case for school. My slot is mine to use, or mine to squander.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I'm flattered. Can't believe the message behind that little speech stuck with you over the years. As you've learned first-hand, quitting can lead to wonderful things. I'm so glad to hear (read) that you're doing well. Even at 1 a.m. Monday with zero sleep you are an amazing writer. Hope to catch up with you soon. Xoxo, Jasmine Huda