July 15, 2016

I Quit.

"I quit."

Don't fear - I'm not quitting the volunteer blogging business. But these are words I'm not good at saying, along with "no" and "Britney's past her prime." I'm good at leaving things unfinished like cleaning and writing books, but once I'm committed, I'm not a quitter. I don't even quit jobs; I just move or I'm asked to stop showing up because I "graduated." And technically, I'm still working on my book and my room, even if my work's been on hiatus since 2012.

I have quit ice skating: many times. But in quitting skating, I've been an utter failure. I'm the hen who cried wolf of ending my skating career. After my tearful, dramatic farewell to Hens on Ice lasted a mere 6 weeks, no one believes me when I cry again at the next show and say, "This is it!" You'll all be sorry one day when you don't take my sobbing farewell to the ice seriously, whether that day comes this year or before my 2048 presidential run. Until then, let's reflect on my history of quitting.

Times I Hung Up My Skates "For Good!"
Skating is fun!

5 years old. I'd had enough! I'd put in months to get to the Basic 3 level, and it was just so boring!What was this gliding around a circle both directions? I was so bored and cold, even a young Russian coach couldn't keep my interest.
My comeback: I went skating "for fun" one day with my dad and he taught me a jump. That was fun! I was back, with Olympic dreams.

13 years old. Life's not easy as a tween, especially as a male figure skater in a highly-competitive, arguably cut-throat training center at high altitude. This was a year after one of my peers called me a "pathetic loser who would never amount to anything," and for some sick reason, that was not why I tried to quit.

The pressure of wanting to prove myself so badly was starting to affect my mind and health, and I'd been struggling in skating and in life for a few months leading up to the first competition of the summer. In the 6-minute warm up before my name was announced to compete, I'd felt something on the ice I'd never felt before: fear. It was some sort of fear of skating poorly and crumbling under the pressure. It just took a few missed jumps to make me panic and freeze, not wanting to compete. My coaches tried to calm my nerves, reminding me I had trained for this and to relax. I was nowhere near relaxed. My one coach then tried a little reverse psychology, telling me that no one was forcing me to do this, and that I could walk off the ice right then if I chose. This of course would be unprecedented, as I was in costume, seconds away from my name being announced with hundreds of people watching me.

I stepped off the ice.

My other coach shoved me back onto the ice as my name was announced, telling me to "go out there and skate, dammit!"
My comeback: I skated. Although those next three minutes were a blur, it must have gone okay because I won the event. With a new confidence and a gold medal around my neck, we all agreed I'd withdraw from the long program event the next day and focus on the rest of the season.

Back with a vengeance!
19 years old. Since I didn't make the 2004 Olympic team (I was not in the running), I was ready for college! Before moving to Florida, I competed in my final competition at the U.S. Collegiate Championships. I skated well, won my typical 5th-place pat on the back, and my competitors were actually nice! I had family and childhood friends in the audience; it was the perfect was to end my skating career. There would be nowhere decent to skate in Florida, and I'd be busy studying and fighting my drug-addict roommate.
My comeback: The thought of never skating again was terrifying, so I dabbled in coaching and skating on my free time. Florida actually could keep ice indoors, and I still liked doing triple jumps. I was already used to managing my time with training and going to school full-time, so I suddenly had too much free time if I wasn't skating. The upcoming U.S. Collegiate Championships after my freshman year would be in Hawaii, so it was all the perfect excuse to step up my training over the summer and go to the Aloha State. Added bonus, that event went well and I won the silver medal. With a minor taste of success, there was no turning back.

But I did turn back, a few times, and tried to quit some more. Since I'm such a bad quitter, there is more in "I Quit, Part II."

"I Quit. Part II!"

"The Rudeness of Strangers."
"PULSE and Other Things That Suck."
"The Power of the Unfollow!"

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