I aspire to be the kind of person you can count on; when I make a commitment I like to see it through. But I've learned I'm also the kind of person who takes on too much at times and then I become a stress ball because I don't have enough down time with Chris and just on my own. This really became clear to me in graduate school, when I found myself: conducting research for my thesis, taking a full load of classes, serving as the secretary of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, a co-founder of a student interest group, founder of a running group, and science fair tutor at a local high school...on top of being a part of an awesome group of grad students who loved to be social and have dinner parties and dance parties all the time. It was a lot.
On the one hand, it was awesome and I think a very formative time for me. I learned a ton, met amazing people (including my husband!), and gained confidence. On the other hand, when I look back at that time it's a bit overshadowed by stress and I was so burned out when I finished! Right before finals of my last semester I came down with viral meningitis (it was scary!) and I really wonder how much being stressed contributed to getting so sick.
Keeping my graduate school experience in mind I've been trying to tone down over the past four years. But it's not easy. There are just so many great ways to fill my free time. There's sewing, blog writing, cooking, decorating, reading, volunteering, seeing friends, seeing family, exercising, gardening, talking with long distance friends on the phone, taking our crazy vizsla to the park, and on and on...and quickly I can find myself feeling much too busy and without as much time with Chris or to myself as I need.
Some time over this past year I started trying to be OK with saying no to something or quitting it if I really didn't want to do something (not like going to work or paying bills, just the "free time" stuff). So I'm practicing quitting without feeling guilty. For months I went back and forth about whether or not I should keep volunteering at the Audubon Center, as I had for the past two years. It's such a great organization and I love supporting it. But Chris was working every weekend and I wanted to maximize the amount of time I spent with him. Going to volunteering, even though it was only once a month, started to feel like an obligation instead of something to look forward to. This past January I emailed the volunteer coordinator and letting her know that I wouldn't continue. I felt guilty for a tiny bit and then I felt a lot of relief.
More recently I've also "quit" my garden. Sad face. I planted some tomatoes, a pepper, and even a few marigold seeds and also had a potted basil plant. But I don't think the irrigation was adjusted properly and pretty quickly it started to die. Gardening is one of those things I want to do more of...but don't find myself prioritizing. I'm taking that as a cue that it's OK to let it go for now. We get so much produce through Chow Locally as it is, I almost don't know what I'd do with more produce.
And just two weeks ago I quit the Photoshop class I was taking. The class was all online tutorials through Lynda.com plus a few quizzed and projects. As I worked through the tutorials I didn't find that they were addressing what I needed - which is formatting and basic graphic design for blogging. In fact, I've found much more help through my Blog 2.0 class and the videos and tips that Elise posts on her blog. I started to become less interested and to fall behind. It started to stress me out and the I remembered - I'm just taking this for my own benefit! It's not worth this! I definitely still have that dedicated student mentality and arriving at the decision to drop was hard...but the feeling of relief after it was done told me it was the right one. Plus I still have access to all the tutorials through the end of the month!
So there you have it: I'm a quitter. And I don't feel (too) guilty about it.