Sometimes, it is obvious that you need to quit. Smoking has gradually polluted your lungs, so you quit. It is time for you to go back to school and leave your summer job, so you quit. It can be such an obvious choice based on factors like physical health and plain common sense. Other times, like in my case, it is much less black and white.
I joined band when I was eleven because the sixth graders were not allowed to take art classes. I learned how to play the trumpet and loved it. I was willing to put in the time to practice at home, show up to afterschool rehearsals, and to ask the band directors for extra help when I needed it. I learned to spin a flag for marching band season. I only missed practices when I was weak with fever. I never missed a performance.
When I got to college, it was just a given that I would continue. When school started I decided to play the trumpet in the pep band and spin my flag with the marching band. I was optimistic and excited.
As the year progressed, something shifted. I was at band while my friends and classmates had more time to perfect their assignments or search for internships. I began to feel like I was slipping behind. I started to dread practices and lament the time that I was losing by way of twelve-hour performance days. The circumstances led to me no longer loving what I was doing.
Nevertheless, I continued. I still showed up on time for everything and tried to perform to the best of my ability. I even decided to rejoin for my sophomore year. People told me that it was okay to have something outside of my major that I could just enjoy and I agreed. But deep down I knew that band was not that thing.
The marching band season ends today and I have come to the decision that it will be my last. This was a difficult decision for me to make. I still feel like I owe something to the sixth grader holding the trumpet that seemed too heavy back then and to the ninth grader tossing a flag in front of a crowd and relishing every moment of it. But the emotions they felt do not exist for the present. They were squashed out through a number of long days and stressful situations. I like to think that when I am out of school and have a set working schedule, maybe I could find a trumpet on eBay and pick up where I left off.