When I was young I quit everything (sung to the tune of “The Freshman”).
Softball, dance lessons. Okay, so maybe only 2 things. But that’s still more than I quit as an adult. Somehow I got it into my head that adults don’t quit, and for a long time, I was very good at not giving up even when I felt like it.
A job I don’t like? Stay there for 2 years. Another job I don’t like? Another 2 years. A relationship that isn’t the best for me? Don’t end it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It was partially because giving up was often the harder thing. But it was also because not giving up was the harder thing. You can argue it either way to suit your fancy. If you’re scared to quit, tell yourself the stronger choice is to stick it out. If you’re worried staying may not work out, tell yourself it’s brave to leave. I always told myself it was the stronger decision to stay.
Take the second hole in my right ear, for example. I had it pierced back in 5th grade. Yet a couple of weeks ago, I tried putting an earring into it and basically had to re-pierce it. Yes, ouch. I’d done it before because I’m not good about wearing earrings in that hole, and usually, it will hurt for a day or two and then heal.
This time, the ear swelled, then looked like it was getting better, then formed a layer of crust around the hole, then oozed pus out of the hole, then swelled again. Yes, gross. That’s when I considered letting the hole close.
Was it time to give up? When you’ve given something your all and you’re just sitting there watching it get worse and worse, is refusing to do anything about it cowardly?
To the adult me, even considering letting a piercing close up prompted these questions. If I went through with it and took out the earring for good, on the plus side, it would no longer be infected. But what if all it needed was a little more care, a little more time, and a little more faith? Would it get better? It’s not like there was a clear sign I should give up.
Oh. The pus. Maybe that was it.
But I decided to try once more to see if my ear would reward me for hanging on, because I still basically believe it’s the stronger thing to stay when it comes to things that are hard by nature: relationships that mostly work; jobs that don’t always make you miserable; sensitive ears.
The truly adult thing, of course, is to recognize there’s a difference between giving up and moving on. And maybe one day I will. But for now, I’ll just keep pouring peroxide over the hole and tending to it like my life depends on it. Cause it might. (I think the only piercing that can lead to infection in the brain and then death is the one in my nose, but that’s not really something I want to experiment with.)