If only I hadn’t quit that. Imagine where I’d be now?

Have you ever thought about some hobby, lessons, type of exercise, or similar that you used to do when you were younger that you suddenly stopped? Then years later you thought to yourself, “Dang! If only I had only continued that instead of quitting. I’d be so much better off now for X and/or Y reasons.”

In the past, I have written a bit about my years as a serious dancer. I started ballet lessons at 8 years old, and then stopped rigorous lessons (7-8 classes per week) at about 16. I was invited to audition at one of the best ballet schools in the U.S., and was already dancing for a small ballet company led by a previous principal dancer of the New York City Ballet. But something happened that made me stop, and I’m afraid a major depression followed. But by 18, I was feeling well again. I could have resumed dance lessons, perhaps less rigorously, but I didn’t.

Sitting here writing this I’m thinking “Why the heck didn’t I take ballet or modern dance at college as an elective class? I would’ve been one of the better dancers. Who knows what could have happened if I had never stopped lessons. Maybe even today at 46 years old I would still be dancing, and quite athletic. I surely wouldn’t be a professional dancer in my 40s, but I could still be taking classes and dancing very well. Maybe I could even be a part-time instructor or choreographer. That would have made me happy. Too bad! Instead, I’m now out of shape and overweight, rarely exercising, and even have high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and low endurance.

After the depression I suffered from quitting ballet, I decided to take piano lessons. I loved playing the piano, though I was only a fair musician. I swear that I don’t remember why I quit piano lessons. I’m imagining it was for a silly not so well-thought out reason. I remember that five years after quitting I was married and owned a home. My parents offered me the piano, but I refused because I didn’t think it would fit well in my house. I guess it could have fit, if I had really wanted it, but instead my mom sold it and gave me the money. The money is long since spent on who knows what. Twenty six years have passed since I touched a piano. Imagine the music I would likely be able to play if I had taken almost 30 years of piano lessons? Or close to that? Instead, my piano playing skills are nil. I’ve even forgotten how to read music well.

I have always loved learning foreign languages. In high school I studied four years of French and one year of Chinese. When I first went to university I was placed in Intermediate French and Beginning Chinese. I dropped the French class for who knows what reason. Maybe because I thought two language classes at the same time would be difficult. I don’t know. I did continue Chinese through my senior year. I also lived briefly in Taiwan. My Chinese skills were pretty good, but then after getting married I barely spoke the language. [My hubby is a Czech.] The last time I studied French was over 20 years ago. Why didn’t I continue French? I was always an “A” student in French. I could have continued my Chinese in the U.S., but I didn’t. Now I have forgotten so many words in these languages, and have forgotten so many Chinese written characters. A real shame!

I’m not going to say that I abandoned or forgot all of the skills I learned in my youth. I am a better cook now than ever. My writing skills have improved a lot since college, too. I honed and retained skills I learned on the job. But as I wrote, I do have regrets. Could I start taking dance, piano, French or Chinese again in my mid 40s? I suppose so. I’ll have to think about it a bit more, or think about new things I could learn. For example, I did learn flower arranging at age 42. I love that skill and hobby. I guess it’s not too late. As for other skills or knowledge, some I’m OK with having forgotten. Remembering advanced algebra or calculus isn’t a big deal to me, unless I someday wish to take the GRE or GMAT.

The main point of this post is to encourage young people to think twice before quitting lessons similar to ones I’ve outlined above. Ask yourself “Will I regret not being skilled at X or Y when I’m middle-aged?” And yes, you will someday be middle-aged. 

For older readers, are there lost skills you had as a youth, that you’d like to work on again? 

What do you regret quitting?

24 thoughts on “If only I hadn’t quit that. Imagine where I’d be now?

  1. sheetalbravon October 2, 2017 / 5:46 pm

    I suppose the reasons for quitting at that time seem legitimate and don’t we all love hindsight. Seriously though, you are a Jill of all trades and yes, you do inspire me to stretch my list of ‘to do stuff in this lifetime’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 2, 2017 / 6:03 pm

      You’re right that I do love hindsight. I guess I could blame my parents for not encouraging me more to stick with certain things (like ballet), but then again if they pushed me I might have resented that. Maybe if I had stayed with the ballet, I wouldn’t have done other things I eventually did.

      I guess I have done a variety of things in my life, though I don’t think of myself as a “Jill of all trades”. Anyway, it does make me happy to think I have inspired someone to try new things and stick with major things long enough to find true accomplishment in them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Suzanne October 2, 2017 / 11:42 pm

    Interesting post! I’m just entering middle age. I think I’ve stuck with the things that really appealed to me. The one thing I’d regretted was not continuing with photography which I’d done in high school. My blog has given me an excuse to get back into it which has been fun. I agree with the previous poster that it sounds like you were particularly skilled in a number of things!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 3, 2017 / 12:26 am

      Hi Suzanne. I’m so glad that your blog has motivated you to get back into photography. I have very much enjoyed people’s photography on blogs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sherraine October 3, 2017 / 3:12 am

    It’s definitely a fair point! I quit the piano in HS, and now I wish that I could play. However, I wanted to quit the piano long before my mom actually let me, and I have a feeling that if I had been allowed to quit sooner after I had wanted to, I would have come back to it sooner. I needed the time away. I wrote a post about quitting my job recently; I think that we admonish quitters for not sticking things through, but as the first comment notes, there’s often a fair reason for having quit at the time. Hindsight sometimes paints a rosier picture than what it was. The lesson though, to really think through decisions, is one that young people definitely need to hear. All flights of fancy should not be followed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 3, 2017 / 11:18 am

      Hi Sherraine. That’s interesting how you feel that if you had quit the piano earlier that you might have gone back to it. I can understand how breaks can do that. I once took a break from my Chinese studies, but planned to return to Taiwan. The plan changed, though, when I met my husband. It seemed a little like fate at work.

      I just wished that there could have been a little woman on my shoulder that said “Hey, why don’t you do X again. You won’t regret it”, but I didn’t. Instead, I got caught up in a bit of a whirl wind. I took some classes at college that turned out to be a waste of time and money. I could have picked more wisely.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. NaPropasti October 3, 2017 / 7:16 am

    You’re not alone, BirdieFlight. The next step in the “Why didn’t I pursue XY further…” self-blame routine is finding the perfect excuse. For me, it was because my piano teacher emigrated to America, my French teacher also emigrated, Latin is a dead language anyway, Botany…I found out the professor, who sparked my avid interest in plants, was a drunk! The final step in the process of self-forgiveness is to find some esoteric replacement for the long lost opportunity to learn… …for instance, I now plan to study Pteridology instead of Botany. The few years of my intermittent piano lessons as a kid might be enough of a prerequisite for volunteering as a Tuvan throat singing impresario in retirement. But, I did learn how to touch-type when I was 15 and to this day haven’t looked at the keyboard once. Pretty impressive, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 3, 2017 / 11:33 am

      Yes, I guess it is easy to self blame. It’s funny, too, how silly or insignificant those excuses are, though back then I guess they didn’t seem so insignificant.

      I’ll have to look up Pteridology. In any case, good for you for finding a way to let your Botany interest lead to something new or related. I guess you’re right that sometimes those abandoned interests or skills do contribute to new ones. That’s great! Perhaps the skills I mentioned were abandoned did do similar.

      I sure am glad I can touch type, too, but must confess that I’m typing this on my phone. Typing is already going through a transformation. Perhaps we’ll all be doing something different in the future.

      Like

    • updownflight October 3, 2017 / 3:38 pm

      Ah ha! I looked up Pteridology. I think you would approve of my fondness for ferns, as well. I haven’t counted them, but I think I have at least 10 pots of ferns between my backyard and front porch. I’ve always loved them, too. They are doing very well.

      Like

  5. zlotybaby October 3, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    An interesting post. I have an opposite problem with continuing doing things for too long. If I don’t enjoy something I still force myself to continue, to get a diploma, certificate or whatever it is that’s my goal at the moment. The main things I quit in my life was playing keyboard, learning German and Arabic and the most recent one: programming. I think if you really like something you should never quit but if you don’t enjoy it that much, life’s just too short. There’s just not enough time for everything… Now, laziness is a different story. One should always try to fight with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 3, 2017 / 1:25 pm

      I guess I can understand the negatives in continuing something far beyond it’s time. I think a lot of people do that with jobs they hate.

      Looking back, a lot of things I quit I think I quit for the wrong reasons. I’d be so disappointed in something that I’d run away from it. Or I’d have my nose out of joint for some reason that seemed important at the time, but less so later. Or what you wrote, a bit of a laziness. That was certainly a bit of a reason I stopped my Chinese studies. I became enamored with my Czech husband and Chinese just didn’t seem as important to me any more. Plus, I almost got angry at China for some silly reason. That anger is fading as I’ve matured.

      Like

  6. marandarussell October 3, 2017 / 1:20 pm

    It’s never too late! If physically able you could take an easy class now or do an easier style of dance just to get into it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 3, 2017 / 1:28 pm

      The only things holding me back from taking a class are my weight (I’d ideally like to lose 20 lbs before getting into a leotard and tights), and the fact that I’m so out of shape, not at all limber, and have even grown a bit clumsy. I blame that on a medication I take. I have a bit of a perfectionist in me when it comes to certain things like dance. That’s a disability.

      Like

  7. laurabedlam October 5, 2017 / 5:10 pm

    Wow, I can relate to this so hard! There are so many things I gave up, mostly due to a lack of self-confidence (and of course, bipolar-related issues). What else is a li’l freaky is that, after we got married, my mom also offered my spouse and me the family baby grand piano. It’s an amazing instrument. I started playing at 4, but quit at 11. Spouse “minored” in piano in college while studying bass. We refused the piano at first because we also thought we had no room for it. Turns out we could’ve made room if we’d just jettisoned a table we almost never use. By the time we realized we could accommodate the piano, my mom changed her mind and decided she likes having it in her house, despite never having played an instrument in her life. Grrr…I s’pose we’ll get it one day. Anyway, great post! I think about this stuff a lot. Looking forward to more! (And sorry about the crazy long comment…) 🙂 -LB

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 5, 2017 / 5:49 pm

      Thanks so much for reading my post, LB! It’s amazing how we both related so much about even a specific thing.

      Do you know, I sort of wonder if bipolar disorder has played at least a little part in some of these things I quit over the years. I know a lot of people with bipolar disorder are notorious for suddenly moving away from or quitting things, even spouses or boy/girl friends. Though I do think this tendency is not limited to bipolars, yes, I think it may be even more common in some people with the illness.

      If you and your spouse really would love that piano, could you take the chance and ask for it sooner rather than later? Piano is too far in my past, at this point, but given your spouse’s background in it, you could really benefit. Do you have kids? Or do you plan to have kids? How wonderful it would be to have a piano available for one, or at least dad and/or mom playing it.

      Like

  8. Kritika October 8, 2017 / 6:09 am

    Great post! I naturally tend to quit things when I get a little overwhelmed or frustrated. I have just started learning German, and I know that I’ll get frustrated very soon, but I’ll think twice before quitting! Thanks for the motivation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 8, 2017 / 12:12 pm

      I’m glad you’ll give it a second thought, Kritika.

      Like

  9. evelynkrieger October 9, 2017 / 7:11 pm

    You and I are in sync this week, Updownflight. I just published a post on this very topic, specifically relating to parents letting their children quit lessons. Your mid-life perspective is very helpful in considering this dilemma. I also regretted leaving ballet as a teen but later went back to it. Too late for professional life but I did retrain. Later I taught children, quite again (too perfectionsitic), then returned in mid-life to class and then teaching adults. I am still dancing but spend more time in contemporary and jazz which I find less exacting, or at least easier on the middle-aged body.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 9, 2017 / 7:14 pm

      Hi evelynkrieger. I’m happy to read that you went back to dance classes, and even used that knowledge/skill to teach. I’ll check out your blog to try to find your post on this topic.

      Like

  10. fit2fatforme November 8, 2017 / 3:23 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It is exactly what I needed to read as I am beginning week 4 of a huge life shift for myself and 3 boys. I am at that point of trying to find myself again and this post has encouraged me to identify one thing I enjoyed before my unhealthy relationship and pick it back up again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight November 8, 2017 / 5:05 pm

      I’m so glad to read that you will go back to a past love. What types of activities are you thinking about? I’m happy my post inspired you.

      Like

  11. curioussteph November 8, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    every choice has its consequences. As I age, I’m learning to check in with myself on decisions to do or not do something. This summer, I decided I wanted to start training for a triathlon, (I’m 62). Part of the deal I struck with myself is to review monthly so that I remained more conscious of what I was doing and why.
    I’ve found that I can both be quite precipitate in stopping something, usually because something else appeals more, or the enthusiasm has gone out of the activity. And conversely, I can often hang on to an activity considerably longer than feels good to me, often out of obligation, or attaching to someone else’s dreams or desires. I’m learning to check in and reevaluate more often now, which particularly with age feels good. doing that which matters, as much as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight November 8, 2017 / 5:14 pm

      Best of luck with the triathlon, curioussteph! That’s great!

      I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. It took me a long time to remember the benefits of a check in and revaluation.

      Like

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