The first real time I voluntarily just quit something was when I quit water polo. It was my senior year of high school. I was suffering from back problems and needed to take a few extra days to recover. I explained the situation to my coach and she told me that if I missed another day of practice, that I was off the team. She had acted as though I were just ditching practice to make out with the whole football team under the bleachers like Kelly Bundy or something, but the reality was that I cared about my health more than I cared to play polo on a team that clearly didn't value my well-being. I calmly told the coach that I understood. I walked off the deck. I never returned. Folks were mystified as to what happened. My good friend tried her hardest to convince me to return "You're too good to quit." People expected me back for my last swim season, too, but I never set foot on that pool deck again in high school. Looking back, I guess I was good. But my health came first. The coach knew full well what she had said to me, but it was better for her to stay silent and save face.
In the end, all that remains of this is the story. I have been back in the pool since, I'm still a beast but it doesn't matter. My friend was right, I was too good to quit, but I did it anyway. The world is still turning.
The next quitting incident occurred when I quit singing for a hot minute. I brought up the notion of quitting to my choir director in college, a professor who was not exactly generous with giving compliments for any old reason, and he had a knee jerk reaction that I remember clearly. I said to him that I was looking for a group to sing with after graduation, but that I wasn't sure where to go or if I should even continue at all - we both knew that my voice had deteriorated from stress, overuse, and singing notes that are too low even for most men to sing. He looked up at me, shook his head and said, "You're too good to quit."
Ultimately, I quit, but it didn't last. It wasn't long before an opportunity presented itself to jam. Shortly after, someone else asked me to join a new group they had just started. Apparently, I really was too good to quit because this twenty-something year-old grandpa got brought back from early retirement.
Today, I was at work. I was teaching a class. It's funny, I do not like teaching classes because it takes a lot of energy out of me and I get too invested. But I have been told that I do it well. I was trying to reassure the student, who had said that they viewed the technology that we were learning as "legendary" and described how cool yet intimidating they thought it was. I told them that it was true that there was a lot to learn which is what makes it harder, but that once you get used to how things are supposed to look and get used to going through the steps, it becomes easier over time, as most things do. As I answered more of the student's questions, I accidentally broke the 4th wall and I said that I sometimes thought about leaving the field.
"Why?" the student asked me. "You're too good to quit."
I paused for a moment. I recalled every other time I had heard anyone say that to me and I laughed.
"That's just it. It's why I haven't left yet."