I ran a race last Saturday and I felt so miserable I genuinely wanted to quit. I wanted to pull off halfway through, collect my half marathon finisher’s medal, and head home. I didn’t–even though I really wanted to–but those last 13.1 miles of the race caused my already-tired mind to wander in funny directions. My thoughts shifted from the “now” (“Ugh, I really just want to quit this race!”) to the “then”–and by that, I mean thoughts of past “I quit!” moments.

I wrote my mom a letter when I was twelve years old about wanting to quit pop piano lessons. Long story short: she thought her classically trained kid would fare well in a popular music crash-course. Spoiler alert: I 100% did not fare well. So, in order to preserve whatever professionalism you’ve developed at twelve, I whipped out my best stationary and wrote her a note about why it would be best for me to quit. She took it well. However, that would be the last time I quit anything under her roof.

A couple of days ago, I asked if she had that note. She laughed and said, “Well, it’s probably somewhere around here…” And that was that.

Thoughts on quitting permeate nearly everyone’s minds. It’s human nature. When a human is put into a crappy, less-than-desirable situation, he or she will want to quit.

Thoughts on quitting were discussed Monday, during a quick conversation with one of my professors. He’s a marathon runner too and we both agreed that the Free Press Marathon was a complete suck-fest. I then asked him if he ever wanted to quit music and, to my surprise, he said that yes, he had. This was many years ago of course, but at the end of his sophomore year at Northwestern University, he wanted to stop being a music major.

This realization–the realization that many music majors have had moments where they’ve wanted to chuck their instruments into active volcanoes–sparked something in my mind. What if my capstone project was centered around those “I quit!” moments, but there was also a redemptive side: “I wanted to quit, but I didn’t!”

In typical Ellie-fashion, I torched my original plan. Now, in its place is a more collaborative work. I was thinking I could post up in the lobby of the music school armed with Washtenaw Dairy donuts and my polaroid camera. “I’ll give you a donut if you tell me about the time you almost quit your instrument,” I imagine myself saying about a hundred times.

Tell me what you guys think!

Ellie Snyder

Underweight, annoying glasses-enthusiast seeks nice Jewish boy to sit on her feet when they're cold. And also some good words and some not-too-strong coffee.

2 thoughts to “Quitterz”

  1. Hi Ellie- The idea of turning your capstone project into more of a collaborative work sounds like a great idea, especially if it is centered around “I quit” moments. Using the lobby of the music school as a place to catch people passing by would be a solid start to gather these moments. This makes me wonder if you are going to look for moments specifically from students in the music school like yourself, or from any music enthusiast that comes your way (i.e. professors, guest lecturers, students taking a class there for fun). It would be interesting to do some research on prominent music figures who have also had thoughts about quitting music. Whether this is in the form of an interview or an autobiography, any work you find on a famous musician who also almost quit might help give your project some context. Have you thought about how you will host your responses to the “I’ll give you a donut if you tell me about the time you almost quit your instrument”? Will they be recorded or written? Any way you decide to go with your project, it sounds intriguing. I look forward to seeing how your project progresses this semester! – Allyson

  2. Hi Ellie,

    I’m glad that you came up with a project idea that you feel strongly about! It’s ironic that because you didn’t quit, you came up with a capstone project idea that revolves around that topic. I think this is definitely a subject that holds relevance to anyone who has been in an undesirable position as you mentioned in your post. So it sounds like you want the message to be that despite the many times we want to quit, we should continue to go on (the finishing a marathon by continuing to run forward lends a nice, complementary visual to this theme). I wonder if it would also be helpful to identify times when you SHOULD quit even if you don’t want to. Perhaps this is a theme you were going to explore anyway. If that is the case, it would be cool to research the sunk cost fallacy which basically talks about why some people continue in a bad situation because they’ve invested time/money/something into it already. For example, if you are reading a book and halfway through you are bored out of your mind and have gained nothing from it, you should stop reading the book. However, due to the sunk cost fallacy, we rationalize finishing it because we’ve already done so much reading. But you’d likely be better off just stopping. This could be a cool dimension of research to add to your project – the psychology behind quitting, its connotations, the social perception of it, and also the pros/cons. I think your project ties in nicely with this psychological aspect. Is this something that seems relevant to what you want your project to be?


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