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April 24, 2014

The True Story of a Recovering Quitter. ~ Francesca Harris

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By nature, I am a quitter.

When the going gets tough, I get going. In my defense, the reason I tend to run from things is because I am trying to avoid pain. And I know I am not alone in this defense mechanism, you are lying if you claim that at least one time in your life you didn’t do something to avoid pain.

You are human. And so am I.

People have all different thresholds for pain and I think mine is a little on the low side, so I am constantly ducking and dodging painful situations like it is my full time job.

About six years ago, I was dealing with a lot of pain in my life.

I had just experienced multiple miscarriages while trying to get pregnant with my second child, and that was a lot to deal with.

I felt a great deal of depression and anxiety every single day following the miscarriages and so naturally I wanted to make that stop. It was at this time that I began thinking that maybe it was my career that was causing me so much stress.

I had been working in the field of Human Resources for about four years, and in my state of distress I started desiring a change in career. As a rule you should never make big decisions when you are in a state of distress, sounds pretty logical, but at the time I didn’t recognize I was in a state of distress. I was running from pain, but it was like running in the dark without a flashlight.

I had no idea where I was going or what was chasing me. So I quit my job in HR and took a job as a preschool teacher.

You might be thinking, “um, what?” 

I assure you at the time, this career move made total sense to me. I thought I wanted to teach young children, to be the molder of young minds. I thought it would ease my pain.

I lasted a week before I went crawling back to my old job in HR.

Should I have stuck it out longer than a week? Definitely. If I could go back in time, I would force myself to stay through the end of the school year instead of leaving at the end of the work week. I am not proud of quitting that job as quickly as I did.

But remember, I was in pain.

Running blindly in the dark from one painful thing to another, trying to duck and dodge as best as I could. I was definitely not in the right frame of mind to make a career change. Notice, though, that I didn’t say “if I could go back in time I wouldn’t have taken that teacher job, I would have stayed in HR”. That is because I am grateful for the experience. I learned a lot from that painful period of my life.

And oddly enough that one week teacher gig ended up leading me to the job I have today. I still work in Human Resources but in the area that focuses on training and development for employees; so it is truly the best of both worlds: HR and teaching.

I have friends who are teachers and they sometimes make jokes about how I couldn’t cut it as a teacher and how crazy it was for me to quit after only teaching for a few days. I can see the absurdity of it all from their perspective. And I truly admire them for working hard in an often thankless and difficult profession.

They are right, I couldn’t cut it. I am a quitter.

Or at least, I was.

Now that I recognize my habit of quitting and running away is a defense mechanism to avoid pain, I have been working hard to fight my nature and to stop being a quitter. I realize now that when I start thinking about running away from something that is really difficult to face, then I need to turn around and face it. Face the monster that’s chasing me. Let the pain I am feeling wash over me because it won’t kill me – I know that now.

There are many things in my life now that are difficult and often painful that I can’t just up and quit. Life is hard, this is true for everyone, and if I keep running around in the dark trying to escape the monsters, I will never be happy.

All I will ever be doing is…running.

Currently, I am in graduate school. Let me tell you, going to school as an adult who works full time with young children is not easy. It is going to take me six years to complete this program and get my degree.

And do you know how many times I have thought about quitting? About a hundred – and that was just this semester.

My classes are difficult and often painful, so naturally I want to put an end to that pain. But I won’t.

I am no longer focusing on the parts that are challenging. I am focusing on what I am getting out of this experience. What I am learning in my classes as well as from the life experience in general. I am doing what I should have done six years ago, pushing through the pain.

And when it gets really hard to bear, I turn to friends and family for support. It is amazing how a text message from my husband saying, “You got this” can totally motivate me on a really tough day.

My new mantra is this: “nothing worth having ever came easily.” I know I have made mistakes, but I am doing the best I can to learn from them.

And facing pain instead of dodging it has made me a little stronger.

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Apprentice Editor: Jessica Sandhu / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Flickr

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