The Art of Saying No9:52 PM
I'd like report a failure that may be my biggest success of the semester: I'm quitting my Greek class.
I don't quit things, not when it comes to school. Sure, I'll avoid things that historically bring me down, but I don't quit in the middle. I stick them out no matter how stressed and sleep-deprived I get.
Not even a week into classes, I was drowning with Greek homework. I logged seven hours over the weekend trying to master first declension nouns. I did nothing but Greek and thinking about Greek and wanting to procrastinate on Greek. I got out of class dreading Greek homework. It freaked me out to do other homework lest that take time away from studying Greek.
I came into this semester the only senior on campus thrilled to start her school year. A day later, I wanted to quit everything all together.
"I want to drop this class," I started saying wistfully, as if I couldn't.
"Drop the class," my boyfriend told me.
"Drop the class," my housemate told me.
"Drop the class," my good friend told me.
"Noooo! You need to teach me Greek!" my roommate told me.
"I'm not a quitter," I argued. "I can't drop it. And I just went into my professor's office and badly pronounced Greek words. I set up an appointment in the next few days to check my progress. He told me to channel my inner bride of Frankenstein to hiss the chi correctly. I can't quit after all this effort!"
"You can drop the class," my housemate reminded me. "Drop the class."
Imperatives weren't what changed my mind. Stress wasn't what changed my mind. Ironically, a request for babysitting changed my mind. A professor emailed me to ask if I wanted to babysit his two boys for an hour. I said yes, knowing I had no time to actually do it. This rebel within me (maybe the bride of Frankenstein, after all) stood up and yelled, "Then get rid of the things you don't want to do and do the things you want to do!"
And that surprised me -- I wanted badly to babysit. I wanted to serve in this way. Actually, I wanted to do a lot of things -- I wanted to read more, write more, throw myself into music, editing, philosophy, and my thesis. That's why I was at school, to have fabulous conversations, read good books, and not spend my weekends declining Greek nouns. And babysitting. Who knew I would ever want to babysit?
So at 8:30 AM, I'm shamefacedly handing my professor a drop card and avoiding the despairing looks of my friends in class. I'm dropping the class, because perfection in a nonessential area is not worth killing delight in an essential area -- an area that opens up a space to explore goodness and beauty. I'm not quitting anything but busywork and stress.
Now excuse me while I go read Aquinas.