I always thought the career I picked in college would be the one I stuck with for the rest of my days. The days until I became a NYT bestseller sleeping on mountains of money, that is*.
A few crazy things have happened to remove me from that college-era choice and set me on the track toward something totally different. I shouldn’t be surprised—when I was younger I flip-flopped from architect to astronaut to lawyer to writer so many times I lost count. I thought Older Michelle would have slightly better staying power.
Ah, “staying power”—that little jab at your ability to see things through. Can you stick it out? Are you strong enough? Life will be better on the other side…you just have to stick with it. Some things, I believe, have no-negotiation requirements for “staying power”. There is no quitting option. Yet, other things in life need to be set aside, whether for our own sanity or someone else’s.
I have a handful of friends and family members who, thanks to this infamous “staying power” are struggling with a sense of defeat. They have job problems, friend problems, writing problems, creative problems…and every single one of them is tired of being told that ending a chapter in their life is admitting they are somehow defective. If I quit now, am I a failure? Can I stop without losing face? Why don’t I have any staying power? It might be hard to see the answer if you’re still wrapped up in the middle of ugly circumstances, but I can tell you now that quitting is not always equivalent to failure.
I recently decided to set aside my copywriting career** to do something I had until a few months ago only jokingly considered: teaching. Part of me feels pathetic—like leaving the marketing industry is going to leave some kind of black mark on my soul. And yet, a whole other part of me is incredibly excited because I know, deep down, that I’m finally going to be doing something fulfilling. I'm quitting, yes, but not because I don't have the stamina to rise in a competitive, challenging field. It's because this whole sell-people-all-the-things gig just isn't doing it for me, and I'm not sure it ever has. I'd still like to do some freelancing for creative projects, but I doubt I'll ever sit in a cubicle ever again.
No one can tell you if your struggle is meant to be dealt with over time or through a swift blow to the head, but I can tell you this: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent***. Do what you need to do. Don’t worry about the trolls.
Michelle was recently accepted into the Boettcher Teacher Residency in Denver. She'll be an apprentice teacher and full-time masters-seeking student starting July 2017.
*Wink, wink. HA.
**NOT leaving my fiction career, just to clarify. THAT is very much still in progress.
***Likely a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, but also possibly from clergyman W. E. Channing. See the interesting article here.