The NJ Turnpike has between 9–12 lanes, depending on where you are. At any given time, like any highway in the world, drivers are veering, steering and clearing lanes. They cruise for hours or they pick a lane, quit, pick another lane, reassess and return to the original lane. #annoying. The copious drivers on the road are alert, expecting quick movements or even anticipating the machinations of others. A highway is a living, throbbing, hectic, noisy, messy yet organized world where all the participants calculate the inevitable lane changes of others.
Why can’t we see our lives similarly?
The fabric of the society I grew up in leans heavily on the idea that quitters are inferior. To quit, even if you abhor the idea of going another minute doing whatever that thing is, is just the sort of badge of dishonor that have the grapevine go wild with attacks on your inner fabric. Quit just once and your reputation is tarnished. Quit twice, and wow, you are unreliable, inconsistent, uncertain, disorganized, and who the hell knows what else. Quit a sport, fade away from a friendship, cancel a date, skip practice, put in your two weeks > YOU ARE A QUITTER. What about, embracing the power of quitting?
Hi, my name is Victoria and I am a quitter.
(Resounding Hello Victoria’s ensue).
I quit ballet, piano, modeling and tennis before middle school began
I quit varsity softball, Rotary Club, creative writing, AP World History and several friends in high school (keeping it 100)
I quit rugby at Maryland
I quit seeking full time work, after looking for full time work, full time for a year
I quit substitute teaching, mentoring, my first big-girl-401K-worthy job, backpacking aimlessly, Australian work visa, three different business ideas, a random habit of smoking for six months, et al
Also, I quit my proclivities for self effacing humor, excessive humility, overcompensating, negative self talk (working on it), attracting f*ckboys, people pleasing, saying sorry (still working on it), and being cheap (now I’m frugal, old ones die hard).
What is quitting but a semantic error for quality conservation of energy, effort and time?
Recently, in a moment of unproductive productivity (feeling like I don’t deserve to relax, yet doing so provides me with unexpected inspiration — more social norms that could do with some myth busting) I was hit with something significant.
What if our lives are simply, highways?
The truth is in the pattern.
After finishing up a contract with Remote Year in late 2018, I found myself lost once again. Shocker. Did I want to continue being a nomad? Should I sit tf down and rest? Don’t we rest when we die? Do we die though? What is death? Okay, you see where my ass can make a mountain out of a molehill. I sat down on a grassy Scottish knoll with a notebook and pen. I wrote down the things I’ve always returned to after the aforementioned quits. I had thought, what if I find a pattern and maybe that will guide me a bit better than my neurotic/manic head? The things I didn’t mention alongside my quits, were the things I’ve always kept near and thus, found no reason to shed. My personal, fabric. What truly makes me up; the things that people think of and go oh yea, that’s something Viki would do.
Education. Travel. Attention.
My pattern is education. Yet take a beat to consider this, as education is broader than it’s current connotation and the one that is certainly in your mind right now. It’s not just teaching calculus to a high school class or Psychology 101 in a three hundred person university hall. It’s also sitting around a campfire and sharing stories, it’s also creating travel vlogs on YouTube, it’s also filming how-to-edit videos for Skillshare or any MOOCs, it’s also sitting at a dinner table with friends and laughing over shared experiences. To educate is a mighty broad way of saying, I’ve always found a way to do things that will inevitably create the stories I wish to express to those around me. Therefore, traveling and being the center of attention (let’s be real ey?) are natural byproducts.
The Highway is The Pattern.
Say it again.
Consider this. In all the gaps of my life where I didn’t know which way to turn, I moved to a previous lane to reassess. Because it was comfortable and aligned with my fabric.
Albeit I studied international development at BSOS @ UMD, I also had a minor in history. This allowed me to take alternate route in the state of NJ and get certified to teach social studies, grades 6–12. I worked at Kumon as well and became interested in Eastern ideals of teaching. I continued to mentor. I had one culty summer wherein I apprenticed at an inner city farm in KCMO and then went to Western Mass to work at a summer camp.
I’ve been traveling since I was a child, but the fortune of studying abroad Semester at Sea changed the game. I backpacked, I applied for the Peace Corps, I worked at Remote Year (also, could be seen as educational) and essentially I was gone for months at a time throughout my 20s. I wrote for Black and Abroad.
I’m a single child, being the center of attention barely counts here because it’s so achingly obvious. I got into modeling at 11, got a year-long improv intensive in NYC, tried my hand at a youtube channel, got back into modeling and acting after a roughly thirteen year hiatus, got into Toastmasters, and basically stayed ready with a clutch story for any dinner-gone-quiet.
By the time I left Scotland, the idea for Anderson Street had already taken hold. It seemed so obvious that I couldn’t believe it’d taken me over a decade to realize the signposts marked throughout my life. Once the idea was cemented, most of my (lifelong) anxiety lifted. I thought, maybe all the quitting, was good? Hosted, dinner table discussion around tough topics where we release it like a TV show online with the eventual goal of taking it on the road. Attention, Education, travel. Lit.(Had to).
Maybe I quit about seven of twelve lanes, moved back two to skip three, but now I see it. I just don’t like to waste time. To quit, is to have forethought enough to conserve yourself for whatever is really waiting for you to simply glimpse it. Everyone else can comment on all the quitting, because maybe that’s all they’ll ever be able to muster up the courage for, the comments.
What are you quitting?
*originally published in March 2019 on medium.com; since deleted