Learning through quitting

Ape Lad

It might be fair to say that people generally do not like to give up. Most of us can be quite stubborn—depending, of course, on the circumstances. I am definitely one of those people. Determination is my driver. I can, I will, I must. But as steadfast as I like to think I am, there was a distinct moment in my life when I decided to quit. I decided to give up. No backup plan. No safety net. I just knew that I did not want to do what I was doing. And what was that? I hear you ask. It was the Media and Sociology degree that I embarked upon, fresh out of college. Was I failing? No. Did I have friends? Yes. Was I attending a crap uni? Definitely not. So what was my problem? To put it bluntly, I just realised that I picked the wrong course and didn’t want to pursue it any further.

At college, I had convinced myself that uni wasn’t for me; what’s more, only after numerous visits to the careers advisor did I decide to apply. Making this decision so close to the wire meant I had to decide very quickly what my chosen subject would be. As a result, I picked what I was best at at that exact moment in time and ran with it.

So I quit uni with not much of a plan and started to assess my options. I started volunteering at my local youth centre and also at a charity. I learnt that I quite liked this practical element of engaging with young people, although I was still very much a young person myself. I looked into youth work courses; I sought advice from adults I knew and trusted that worked in similar areas. They encouraged me to pursue social work because of better opportunities in the future. I had no intention of becoming a social worker, but I researched social work courses and decided it might be a good move. Basically I did everything that would have helped the first time I applied for uni.

Having then applied for a social work course, uni the second time round was OK. The course wasn’t fantastic but I was ready for it this time. I was ready to put the work in. I was ready to stick it out. I was ready. I graduated in 2012 with a 2.1 and can now call myself a qualified social worker (although I still have no intention of becoming one).

Since then I have had a few very different roles within the social care/youth work arena. Each of which has developed me in one way or another and has been a progression from the last. But what has been my biggest learning curve to date? Knowing that quitting sometimes is OK, even necessary to give you the drive to do it right the next time. So if ever you decide to quit, give up, change direction—don’t panic! You’ve just given yourself the kick up the butt that might have been long overdue—essentially you’re developing your mettle.


Written by Mickella Jenkins

Photograpy courtesy of Ape Lad