Her: Have you ever thought about quitting?
Me: Gods, yes. At least twice a day.
What am I quitting? Well, you name it. Anything. Everything. I’ve had that feeling in anything I’ve ever done. Jobs, programs, SQL queries, people, even Druidry (which apparently I can’t spell since I’ve typed that six times now). I cannot count the number of times I’ve thought about just quitting writing this blog. I did the same thing over two podcasts. Eventually, I brought both of those to an end, not really quitting, but acknowledging that others were doing a far better job at it than I was. I doubt I ever bring the blog to a close. Unless I wind up with an injury that keeps me from publishing one. I enjoy writing this blog, even if not that many people read it. ::shrug:: I’ve had the worst thoughts too. Quitting life. Both happened at very deep depths in my life. Both are deep into my past. But yes, I have had thoughts of stopping my journey along the OBOD grades.
The first time I came across that feeling, I was in my seventh year in the Bardic grade. I was frustrated over the amount of time it was taking me to get through the lessons. My constant re-starting was forcing me to realize that I wasn’t quite “getting” it the way I had envisioned. Then, I went to my first OBOD camp – the Gulf Coast Gathering. The folks there were not only receptive to my doubts, but they were also helpful with tips of how to get past my doubts. “Don’t stop.” “Stop the restarting.” “Put yourself in a comfortable frame of mind before picking up a lesson. If you can’t get there – don’t do the lesson that day.” Susan Jones, the (then) tutor coordinator for OBOD, provided the best advice of all: “Asking for help is not a crime. No one is going to penalize you or look down on you for seeking help.” That one comment alone provided enough push to bring me back around to working through my lessons and getting through the grade. That bit of advice is what continues to push me through my Ovate lessons to this day, and not be self-disparaging over my slow progress.
The second time was just a short time ago. Less than a year. I kept asking myself what I was trying to accomplish by going through the OBOD grades. I didn’t really need the OBOD system to be the Druid I want to be. I didn’t need OBOD to be the Pagan that I am. Was it a sense of accomplishment that I was pushing for? Did I just want to be able to say I was a recognized Druid according to a Druid Order? Some kind of credential that proved my knowledge to everyone else, like my three degrees do to potential employers and professionals in my field? I have certifications that I can hang on my wall, along with those degrees, in my office. Am I proud of those accomplishments? Yes, I am. Fiercely so. I put in a lot of effort, time, sweat, and energy to get those. Is that why I am here on this Path within OBOD? Do I really need this? The answer, over time, is “Yes. Yes I do.” Not because it’s a box to check off. Not to have some honor that I can hang on the wall for others to see. That shit doesn’t matter. Its because I want to do this for me. I want the knowledge that I will get from taking the courses. I want to utilize that knowledge to be a better human being, a better Pagan, and hopefully be helpful to other Pagans on their respective Paths. To be there to cheer them on with their accomplishments, be there when they slip and skin their knees, to acknowledge what they have accomplished, and show them that someone cares about them. I don’t know if I will get that out of the entire OBOD grade experience and knowledge, but I know that my own trials tribulations, doubts, and getting beyond all of that to finish will provide me with a point of reference to help others.
I’m an independent person. Same holds true for my Pagan practice (Gods I hate that phrasing. It makes me sound like I’m a medical Doctor). I’m used to doing things on my own in my Spirituality. To paraphrase the Dennis Leary line from the movie ‘Demolition Man”: I do what I have to, sometimes other Pagans come along. Why would I want to help others, when my Spirituality is so pointedly aimed towards doing things by myself? Well, that goes back to my upbringing. My parents, who have long since passed, instilled that behavior into my sense of others. I’m not anyone special. Just your average, everyday human being trying to live life day at a time. Sometimes, its just one hour at a time. Or even one step at a time. But even through my own issues, I can stop, and take a moment or twelve for someone else. Being a Pagan that relies on a Solitary existence doesn’t mean that I have to be a hermit. Being a solo Pagan (that phrasing is even worse. It makes me feel like I should dress like Star Wars’ Han Solo), means that most of my Spiritual work is done alone, but I’m not going to shove everyone out of my life. Believe it or not, I do have friends. Don’t be shocked. I can be a prickly individual, but I’m not the Don Rickles of the Pagan world either.
So, yes, I do get the urge to quit from time to time. Everyone has those little doubt-gnomes that sit in their shoulders and whisper in their ear. I like gnomes as a better image than devils and angels. You could even substitute brownies (the critters, not the pre-Girl Scout kids) for those shoulder weasels. Or whatever imagery works for you. But you hear the words. “You’re not good enough.” “Those people aren’t going to like you.” “You’re a failure at everything.” “Why even try? You know you’re going to fail.” Yep, I hear those all the time. My method of dealing with them is to stop, take a deep breath, and remember – I am worthy. People out there do care about me. If I were to shuffle off this mortal coil, there are people who would miss me. I am capable of doing whatever I put my mind to. It might not look pretty, but it will get completed. Its never a shameful thing to ask for help. In fact, it’s the bravest thing you can do.
So, if you get those feelings that its time to quit, just stop. Trust me, I have been there. Quitting means giving in to what others might think of you. They may have already made up their mind that you weren’t going to make it. Well, fly them the finger, get back up, and finish. Just to spite them. Because you can do it. I, for one, am in your corner. If you ever need an ear to bend…just write me. firstname.lastname@example.org I might not get back to you immediately, after all I have my own stuff to get through. But I will answer. Don’t ask for money though. I’m far more skint han you. I promise you that. LOL