What a weird week I had last week. Ups and downs and ins and outs and upside downs. I guess that’s every week for most people, and for me too, but last week everything was even more pronounced than usual. It finally ended with a colleague referring to me as a “quitter.” And this is a colleague who knows enough about me to know that this is a pretty ridiculous claim. So here I am to refute it.
Before I can do that I have to explain a few things.
First of all, let’s agree that conflicts usually begin over really stupid things. I know this firsthand, because I’m estranged from a couple of members of my family due to of a lot of nonsense that could have been avoided, but eventually snowballed into situations that ended up hurting a lot of beautiful and decent individuals. We’ve all read that wars begin over small disagreements between parties. That dictators end up hating certain groups because of avoidable disputes. That grudges over miniscule differences can last a lifetime. What I’m going to relate here is similar. Here goes.
The colleague in question asked me to assist her with taking some decorations off a large piece of paper on her wall, with a plan that we would reuse them. Everything was taped, and when I tried to remove something the piece of background paper ripped about two inches. She FREAKED OUT on me, then quickly tried to justify why she did. My response: “It’s PAPER. I’ll tape it. I’ll get another piece. It’s not someone’s LIFE.” We got around it, but while I was pulling more tape off the same paper it started to rip again and she FREAKED OUT a second time. At this point I told her to do it herself. And these words fell from her condescending lips: “You quit at everything!” Students, taking their final, were staring at us. How embarrassing!
For a little bit of background: this same person has repeatedly shushed me in front of students when I try to respond to conversations that she starts, and is always quick to one-up me whenever I reveal some small victory in my sometimes challenging and multi-faceted life. Some of the things I’ve heard her say to students are questionable, at best. A lot of unnecessary comments that are clearly not well thought out are spoken. She is not a bad person by any means, just very sheltered, from what I have gathered. Like a lot of coworkers I’ve encountered, she has some major power issues. In spite of all this, our working relationship has been pretty good. Hard to believe, right?
Here’s the kicker: the day before this incident we had gone out to eat with a mutual friend, and had a great time. You’d think it would make a difference? Apparently not.
Although I woke up this morning just about “over it” and ready to move on without her in my sphere, I still think I should defend myself against her utter misstep. I’ll try not to be as self-absorbed as my buddy.
WHY I’M NOT A QUITTER:
You know this is coming. Check the statistics on Stage IV Lung Cancer. I’m not going to post a link, because I don’t look at them anymore. I’m over them. They aren’t me. But they could have been me. Only, I didn’t quit. Point made.
I’ve lost more people who truly loved me than I have left in this world. And yet, I still find joy in life. I could have quit, but chose not to.
I never had the comfort of having someone pay for my education. The only reason I got a master’s degree is because I tapped every resource I could find, including my own bank account. Furthermore, I worked full time jobs the entire time. I may have been exhausted, but I never quit.
My traveling life has, for the most part, been self-funded. Been doing this stuff for nearly 40 years, including three and a half of them with cancer. This sucky disease could have stopped me from doing something I love, but I didn’t quit.
Another thing I didn’t quit at is hiking. I’ve hiked thousands of miles since my diagnosis. In fact, I log more on foot miles in a day, a week, a month, and a year than most humans.
I could go on and on and on, but I won’t, because here’s an alternate thought.
My dear colleague might just have a point. I long ago quit losing my shit over pieces of ripped paper, over “spilt milk.” I’ve quit letting power-hungry colleagues and family members effect my life in any major way. I’ve learned to quit letting cancer decide how I live, what I live for, how long I live. I’ve quit having to “win” every battle and aim to conquer only the really important ones.
Perhaps I am a quitter after all.