I don’t know about you, but I was raised with a strong “don’t be a quitter” attitude. If you start something, you should finish it. Period. That is just what good people do.
Ever notice how many virtues there are which are noble to teach a child, yet become self-limiting and self-defeating after we hone them to perfection as adults??
Never allowing yourself to be a quitter (and equating that to failure that you were not ‘good enough’ to stick with it) can really limit your ability to go out and sample the variety of life! Why would I want to convince myself to try something new if there is no Undo button? What if I don’t like it? What if it is not as amazing as I think it might be?
You go into an ice-cream parlor (mmmm, ice cream) and you choose two different flavors. You try one flavor and you like it. You try the next and you don’t care for it.
Do you judge yourself as a failure for not liking the other flavor?
Of course not! You judge the flavor as “not for you” … and you move on. You wouldn’t have known that without trying it. But you certainly don’t judge yourself and say, “Gee, I really should eat my daily scoop of X because I need to get better at liking the gross taste of it”.
Why, then, do we take it personally when we ‘give up’ on other choices and experiences of life? This really used to hold me back from ever wanting to try new challenges. Why is it that as a culture we ‘should’ always persevere in situations that don’t light us up anymore? That we should “stick with it”?
But, you are not giving up. You were simply sampling. Kind of like going through life with a huge “just visiting” sign plastered on your back. You are free to leave at any time.
If there is no commitment, then there is nothing to fear.
And if there is nothing to fear then we’ll be free to try all sorts of new things. All things feel more “comfortable” because you are not fearing the outcome. It is about sampling in the present moment.
Yes, we can get bored with it. E.g. you don’t have to end up LOVING everything you TRY to do. We have to TRY it to *find out* whether or not we’ll love it, or be good at it. As a child, we naturally did this. Abandoning things that no longer held us. But somewhere along the way, some adult in our lives decided that we would never settle on anything, and judged that as bad (unsafe given their belief system), and then WE felt judged as bad because we didn’t ‘stick with something’. As we enter adulthood, this matures into feeling that we have to KNOW, before we have ever tried, if we’ll want to do this thing FOREVER. Which, naturally, is patently ridiculous when you say it out loud like that. Of COURSE we couldn’t know if we’ll like something until we’ve done it. But that puts us between a rock and a hardplace in terms of wanting to try new things. How do you feel inspired to try new things, if you don’t know if you want to commit to become really good at it and do it forever?
But turns out it is perfectly acceptable and natural to “give up” on things. This is NOT failure. Life is about sampling anything and everything that perks our interest, and then continuing to pursue the things that actually feel enlivening while we do them. We are here to explore new things. We’re not meant to like them all. Some new things will feel like you are flourishing, others end up not being what you felt like they’d be like. We can easily and at any time choose to stop doing something we started – if it isn’t for us. So just because you want to start (choose a goal) and apply yourself for a while doesn’t mean you are committed forever. It is not failure to choose to stop, if it gets stale for you.
However, don’t confuse fear of inadequacy for a genuine disinterest in expansion. Fear of inadequacy is focusing on the judgment of others. Fear of the measure of someone else’s judgment of your performance and competency. You do have to push past the fear of the comfort zone, so that you’ve done it enough times that, in reality, you learned that you did not die 😊. You were perfectly capable. So the fear of doing it has subsided so that it is not “all new” anymore, and feels more comfortable. From that place, you’ll be able to decide then if something is lighting you up or not.
So go for it! Try something new, put yourself out there. You can quit anytime, and you may have learned that it wasn’t a fit for you. Or, you may learn that you love it! You are full of talents and skills that you don’t even know you have yet.