Even if that’s all I’ve done until now.
Each time I create some piece of art for the internet, whether it be a written piece, a social media post, or a page on my website, I always get the same sick feeling before I hit publish.
Putting myself out there is hard for me, mainly because every time I hit publish, I feel like I am saying to the world, “I’m here again! See! I did it!”
That feeling is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I look at that feeling and say, “look at me, reclaiming my time and space in the world.” On the other, the more practical side of me, is saying “what if this is the last one I do?” or worse, “what if they all think I’m not going to keep this up?”
“What if they think I’m a quitter?”
My Finish Rate Appears Poor
Before I started my brand new blog, I became hyper-aware of this feeling. Suggestions on the internet say that if you’re going to write an article or launch a website, you should tell your friends. Use your network, etc.
“But, what if I’ve already used my network?” I thought. I’ve had a lot of failed ventures, all that started with the same enthusiasm and doe-eyed dreams. Over the last few years, I have started (and not, ultimately, continued) a beaded jewelry Etsy shop, a crocheted hat Etsy shop, and a paper-flower Etsy shop. There were other projects, too — jobs, relationships, commitments — but for some reason, the Etsy shops are the most visceral because those are the ones I launched to my friends, got their support, and didn’t continue.
Each time, I’ve “used my network,” they’ve kindly supported me, and I’ve just given up on the project. It either takes up too much of my time, or I’m not passionate about it, and I move on to something new.
So, naturally, when I started writing and launched my blog, I thought, “surely, this is the same. I quit those things, and I’ll quit this too.”
I Follow Through with The Things That Matter
This process has allowed me to get some perspective. When I’ve tried, in the past, to investigate what did and did not work, I’ve shied away.
For example, one thing I noticed (writing this article) was that these “failed projects” I’ve been carrying as a burdens all had something in common: they were all Etsy shops. They all required heavy labor for a small price and a unique audience seeking my wares.
When I look at the things I haven’t quit, the things I’ve continued today, I’m surprised by how much those projects matter more. I’ve stayed clean and sober for six years. I’ve been a Cycling Instructor for just shy of a year. I’ve been writing every other day for two weeks (not long but still pretty good). I’ve been in a committed relationship for five years. I’ve adopted two dogs and kept them alive by feeding them, loving them, and taking them to the vet when necessary for five years.
The life I’m surrounded by is full of things that I have loved and nurtured — things that I’ve chosen to cultivate.
Quitting Isn’t The Same As Pausing or Walking Away
This reflective process has taught me that the parts of my life I haven’t carried on into this new season of my life were set down for a reason.
As mentioned earlier, they took too much time. In other cases, they were too stressful to continue. The return wasn’t worth the investment of time, money, fear, or pain.
Every Experience Teaches You Something
I’ve started to notice that my criteria for starting new projects and investing time in new commitments has also become more strict. I can look at a high-labor project and say, “yeah, that’s not for me.” I can consider taking on a new group fitness commitment and think, “maybe the one I have is sufficient.”
That perspective has come from repeated failure and quitting. I only think those things today because I’ve hardened towards what matters in my life.
Further, it’s not like those projects didn’t teach me something. Each time I launched a new Etsy shop and its related social media and digital marketing accouterments, I learned something new. The first project taught me how to start an Etsy shop. The second taught me how to use MailChimp. The third taught me where to find my audiences and how to help something gain traction organically.
My skills have all layered on top of one another to make me who I am today. That same kind of tenacity I had with each of those times didn’t go away; I just channeled it differently when I started writing. I funneled that energy into something productive, instead of a low-return project.
“An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he’s in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots.”
— Charles F. Kettering
My failures are making me better at not failing. My failures are making me bulletproof.
Quitting Could Be The Strongest Thing You Do
I used to think the fear of being called a “Quitter” kept me from starting new things.
While I’m glad for the things I learned during those experiences, I’ve sharpened my senses to know when I should tolerate something for the long-haul and when I should put it down.
Fear of quitting didn’t stop me from starting things — it stopped me from starting things that don’t matter.
Now I can look at the things I’ve quit with a sense of pride and gratitude. I’m not a quitter; I’m a starter.
Most people don’t start anything.