Today I went to a workshop. I paid for it. It wasn’t expensive, but still, I paid for it and when this happens I become very, very attached to extracting what I consider to be value from the experience. This kind of attitude has seen me sit through things that make me want to roll over and die. It’s caused me to read books that I hate, just because I paid for them, then feel pissed off because A) I wasted my money and B) I wasted my time.
Today I did a first. I left half way through the first day of a two day workshop because I hated it. There wasn’t anything wrong with the workshop necessarily, but I was bored because it was all stuff I’d covered a bazillion times before in a bazillion different kinds of ways at a bazillion workshops I’d gone to in the past or in a bazillion books and websites I’d read.
My mind kept telling me that I should stay, that maybe a new and important piece of information was just around the corner, but then my brain said, “yeah, just like the next spin will be the one that wins the jackpot.” I realised that my time is worth more than the money I paid for the workshop.
If I’m really honest, I’m a champion at procrastination and the workshop was another one of my avoidance tactics. I knew when I booked it that I didn’t really need to do this workshop, but I told myself a little story about why I did. The little story allowed me to delay doing the real work I’m meant to be doing: working on getting my memoir published. Click here for a short synopsis. The reason I want to avoid that is because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that it won’t be published and all my work and all the shitty stuff that happened to me that I wrote about in the memoir will all be for nothing, which means that no one gives a crap about me. But, worse and scarier still is what if it does get published? That means that everything, and I mean everything will change. That’s much scarier than living the same life that I have now; a life where I’m used to being a writer who no one wants to publish; a person whose life is insignificant and whose experience does not matter; a person who has incorporated feeling invisible into their identity. It’s shitty to feel like that, but it’s safe and I’m used to it because I’ve felt like this for a long time.
Sometimes I feel like I want to quit writing, just like I quit the workshop today, but for a totally different reason: to free myself from uncertainty. Adventure helps me cope with this because an adventure is an activity with an uncertain outcome. It involves risk, just like my writing does and it can bring vast and unexpected rewards, just like my writing can do. Sometimes I don’t know where an adventure will take me, and even if I have to pack it in and come home early (like when my tent snapped in half at a music festival during a storm), I don’t consider myself a quitter because I did my best and that’s all any of us can ever do.
Knowing when to quit is wisdom, not defeat