I am not a quitter. I don’t remember ever voluntarily quitting anything.
In case you think this is me stroking my ego, don’t worry – I don’t have much ego left. There have been many a time where I have been rejected or kicked out of organizations. My parents used to frequently pull me away from activities that they either thought I didn’t have time for or didn’t want to drive me to. But I never quit on my own – except for maybe Little League soccer. That was a special case, though, as I was so abysmally bad that my parents encouraged it wholeheartedly and my coach may have shed tears of pure joy upon hearing of my decision. However, barring that one instance when I was a distracted, lazy elementary schooler who preferred daydreaming and picking clover to playing soccer, I was very anti-quitting. In my mind, quitting was synonymous with failure, and I was not going to fail. Or at least, I was only going to fail Little League soccer.
Throughout all of middle and high school, I have suffered through activities that I hate just so I don’t have to quit. A leadership conference consisting of 90% group discussions I won’t participate in and 9.999999% icebreakers? Sign me up! A chemistry class I clearly have no interest in, gives me terrible anxiety, and is far too complicated for my simple mind? I’ll be there! Terribly conceived arguments with family members involving violent shouting and hurt feelings? I will never give up this pointless fight!
Yes, it’s pretty clear that my no-quitting strategy worked quite well. I was miserable some of the time, but I was no failure!
Until this year. Lacrosse preseason rolled around and for the first time since it was offered as a sport, I did not put my name down on the obligatory Google Sheet.
I have been playing lacrosse probably since I exited the womb. My dad is a die-hard laxer, and as soon as his three children were mobile and had hard enough skulls to prevent major injury, he suited us up in cheap plastic sticks with hard rubber balls and voilà – we were athletes.
Over the years, I have gone to countless lacrosse camps, games, workouts, and trainings. I have played in rain, snow, cold, and heat indexes well over the legal limit of 107 degrees. I have learned four different ways to cradle a ball, eight different ways to dodge, and dozens of different ways to shoot. I have played on indoor fields, outdoor fields, Astroturf fields, baseball fields, pavilions, and parking lots. And I have hated every minute of my lacrosse journey. Well, most minutes – I liked water breaks.
Still, I didn’t quit. From sixth grade to sophomore year, I dutifully signed up for the evilest of all sports. I did my fair share of complaining, but I never quit. Quitting is failing, remember?
Well, I have quit now. Sorry, past me. The surprising thing is, I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would. I still feel weird about it, of course – lacrosse has been a major part of my life for sixteen years, and to give it up cold turkey feels a little alien and wrong – but not as weird as I thought I would. I will miss the game; I will miss the adrenaline rush of sprinting down the field; I will miss the euphoria of scoring a goal; I will miss my teammates and the fun we have together. But I will not miss the hundreds of hours of workouts and practices; the exhausting out-of-town tournaments; the friends I don’t get to hang out with and the plans I have had to cancel on during lacrosse season. Most of all, I will not miss the dread and misery that sits in my stomach from January to May each year.
I am a virgin quitter. It feels strange to me, but nice. In a way, I think that quitting may be braver than sticking with something. It’s easy to stay with what you know and what is expected of you, and quitting a well-known activity or sport can be daunting. It took me years to work up the courage to quit lacrosse. But now, I have other options I didn’t before.
Suddenly, now I can go home directly after school. I can do my homework to completion. I can not cry most nights. I can spend more time with my friends. I can do more things that I really do want to do, rather than wasting my time on a sport I hate.
I’m sure that this was a really fun memoir about my lacrosse history. If you take anything away from it, take this: quitting does not make you a failure. It opens up new opportunities for success. If you never quit anything, you’ll be stuck with the same things you were doing in middle school and you’ll never find out what you really like.
Take it from me, your resident virgin quitter. I’m here all day, folks.
P.S. Lacrosse isn’t an awful sport for everyone. I personally don’t like it. Kudos to those who do. If I have convinced anyone not to ever play, then (a) that’s awesome that I have so much influence over anybody, and (b) please try it – at the very least you’ll probably get tangerines before games.