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When I was four, I started ballet at my neighborhood dance academy. Five years later, I was placed in an advanced class and performed better than several of my peers. But I got tired of it, so I quit. In sixth grade, I took flute lessons because I wanted to play music for my friends and family. Three years later, frustrated from my lack of progress, I quit. In my freshman year of high school, I wanted to be more active, so I joined track and field conditioning. The coach said I was very talented, which gave me reassurance about my choice. She assigned me to be a hurdler, but after I sprained my ankle twice during practice, I quit. Notice a theme here?

When things don’t seem to work my way, I endure however much I think I can handle, but ultimately decide to let go of the thing that brings me stress. To this day, I hold so much regret over how easily swayed I was. If I had continued ballet, would I have become an agile dancer? If I played the flute well, would I have an admirable skill that could turn heads? If I stayed for the track season, could I have won awards for the team and watched my records improve? But it doesn’t matter, because what’s done is done, and there’s no way for me to change my past.

Over time though, I have learned a lot about my self-awareness and intuition. It took many more hard decisions and experiences for me to understand my tolerance threshold. In fact, I still consider myself as someone who steers clear of anything outside my comfort zone. But I’m working on it.

My procedure for deciding whether to quit or not has evolved quite a bit. Unless my gut feeling is telling me to drop something immediately, which you should always listen to, I now implement more of a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mindset. Even if I don’t feel the best about something, I try to think about the end goal, or where this decision could potentially lead me to. I may struggle during the process, but if the new job will bring me closer to developing myself professionally, for example, I should take the challenge. And even if the situation is not what I expected and I end up hating the risk I took, I at least learned what to do next time if I’m presented with a similar challenge.

Life is so unpredictable, and there will be so many times where you can’t seem to find guidance because nothing is going right. It feels like the universe is against your happiness, and you can’t even cook a piece of toast without burning it. But then, things start to slowly unravel, and you realize that time was all it took. Patience is truly a virtue, and oftentimes is the only thing that can explain why you are being handed all the shitty cards in a deck.

Whenever I’m going through a rough patch and consider giving up, I remember that based on my past, that way of thinking can lead to a lot of regrets that I cannot reverse. Instead, I can take what happens as a learning experience that’ll give me more clarity on how I can be the best version of myself tomorrow. It’s hard work, but it’s so worth it because you owe it to yourself.

Chelina is a third-year Communication and Sociology major at UC Davis. She loves binge watching Parks and Rec and considers herself an ice cream fanatic. After graduating, she hopes to work in public relations, marketing, or consulting.
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