Monday, March 16, 2015

That "Maybe I Will Quit" Feeling

This is about quitting. And about not quitting. And about open mics.

A stand-up comedian is on stage. He has reason to believe this career has potential, and it's important to him to succeed. So he's been working hard, developing his own material and improving his timing. But tonight, again, laughs from the audience have been weak and his last four jokes have completely fallen flat. Inwardly admitting defeat, but looking for at least one face-saving chuckle, he blows a puff of air into his mic and jokes, “Is this thing on?”

Of course the mic is on. And sadly, he may very well believe now that building this career is not worth the effort. He definitely has feelings.

We all have "open mics," both careers and various roles in life, and we all have feelings when we don't think they are working out according to our expectations. I will say more about that later, but first I'll tell you why I am even writing about open mics and feelings

I think about quitting this blog—one of my open mics—twice a week. Yes, twice a week. I post on Mondays and think about quitting until Thursday, when I post again. Then I think about quitting until Monday, when I post once more. Writing for this blog, though I love it, though it feels right for me at this time, takes work. Takes time. And sometimes I want to ask, “Is this thing on?”

I definitely have feelings too.

On a recent Wednesday, a friend brought up this blog over dinner. She is so supportive of my writing that I almost didn't express my true feelings, that I was thinking about quitting this blog for all those reasons I stated above. I might even do it the next day, because it would be, you know, Thursday. Yes, I thought she would probably encourage me not to quit, but mostly I just wanted to express my feelings. I am sure that comedian went directly to his local hang-out for struggling comedians, or maybe to his mother's house, to share his feelings too.

“It’s a lot of work,” I told her, with feeling. “And it’s not like many people read what I write." And now I will get serious, because as predicted, she said, "Don't quit."

The thing is, those two words of encouragement made an impact I didn't expect, because I heard more than those two words:

The microphone is on. You have a small audience that wants the opportunity to hear what you have to say. If you think this is what you are supposed to do, even if you need to work harder, make changes, don't quit. Not yet.

So I have decided, at least for now, not to quit. Maybe make some changes, but not quit. Maybe I will still want to ask "Is this thing on?" but not to the point of not trying my best.

What open mic of yours have you thought about walking away from—or at least about not trying very hard as you stand in front of it? What role or endeavor deserves another shot of your best? One way or another, feelings or not, you're on the stage and the microphone is on. You know it is. And maybe it's not time to quit. Not yet.

Do you ever think about quitting because you wonder if “the microphone is on” or because it is hard to keep going? Where do you find the encouragement to not quit what's important to you? 


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