I’m a quitter and I’m proud of it

I’m a QUITTER, and I’m proud of it

I was told my whole life NOBODY LIKES A QUITTER. By my family. By my friends. By my coaches. By my professors. By my bosses. By my military leaders. And not surprisingly, by a laundry list of other people.

I’m gonna go ahead and disagree with all the above listed people, and show you why being a “quitter” is not ALWAYS a bad thing.

And to be honest, the only regret I have is not learning this lesson earlier.

“Why on earth would someone want to be considered a QUITTER?!”

Well, let me start by sharing with you my BIGGEST AND MOST DIFFICULT decision to quit I’ve ever made.

Then I’ll share a few other important things I’ve quit over the last few years.

And finally I’ll explain why I’m totally cool with labeling myself a quitter.

USNA Friends — On the way to march on at a Navy football game

Leaving a lifelong dream behind

When I was in 7th grade, my earth science teacher came to me and asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him I didn’t know. I didn’t have dreams of becoming a doctor or a firefighter like most kids. I just knew I wanted to do something “important”. From a young age, I knew I wanted to inspire others and change lives, but nothing seemed intrigued me at the time.

He told me that my math and science skills far exceeded the average 7th graders ability and that I should consider becoming a female engineer — they were highly sought after and few and far between.

For the rest of the year, he poured into me, told me stories about himself when he was my age, and shared his experience in the Marine Corps. He started planting seeds about the service academies, specifically the Air Force Academy, and told me I had what it took to get accepted to that prestigious school.

He helped me start building a résumé and included me in extra-curricular science and engineering projects. But the most important thing he did for me was give me a dream.

From 7th grade on, receiving anything but straight A’s was unacceptable. Volunteering and getting involved in the community was a must. Excelling in sports and becoming a team leader/influencer was a high priority.

By the time my Junior year of high school rolled around, I applied and was accepted to “Summer Seminar” programs at the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy. During Summer Seminar, I had a week at each school to tour the campus, get a taste of the military life, and gauge whether the schools were right for me. I had the time of my life, and ultimately I decide the Naval Academy was the better fit for me.

My senior year I went through the process of applying to the academies — I applied to both the Air Force and Naval Academies to give myself a better opportunity of acceptance.

First, I had to go through an interview process with Montana’s congressmen and senators. If I was lucky enough to receive their nomination, I could submit my application to the academies.

(Each congressman and senator can nominate ten kids per year to be looked at further by the academies.)

After experiencing the most nerve racking interview of my life, the men thought I was of enough quality to be nominated. I received nominations from Jon Testor to both the Air Force and Naval Academies.

But the work didn’t stop there… only 2 kids from Montana would be accepted to each academy the year I applied. The odds were very low for me, but I pushed on and prayed I would be lucky enough to receive the honor.

Near the end of February of my senior year, I was called down to the principal’s office and told somebody was on the phone for me. Thinking it was a family member with bad news, I prepared myself.

(I remember my principal sliding a box of tissues across his desk for me, YIKES!)

Low and behold, it was Jon Testor on the phone informing me I had been accepted to the United States Naval Academy. In an ugly crying voice with tears rolling down my cheeks, I remember telling him “THANK YOU VERY MUCH, Sir.”

(I am literally crying again as I write this paragraph because I feel the emotion behind all the hard work I had put in. I was so proud of myself that day. And I was so excited to become a part of something bigger than myself. The military was my way of changing lives and “doing something important”. I felt like I had fulfilled my life’s purpose at the ripe age of 18 years old.)

I called my parents right away and started laughing and crying as they poured into me their love and support. My mom even planned a celebration dinner with my family and all my friends later that evening.

A month after I graduated high school, I shipped myself off to Annapolis, MD and joined my fellow Plebes (Plebes are freshman at the Naval Academy) in an induction to the Navy. We were pushed through a line where we received all of our uniforms and necessities (I literally showed up with nothing more than the clothes I was wearing), got our hair chopped to our shoulders (girls) or shaved off (guys), received a bunch of shots and bloodwork, and then were put in a high stress environment with people yelling at us for the next 8 weeks.

I made it through Plebe Summer just fine. I was able to call home a couple of times, and then my family came down at the end of the summer when training wrapped up and school was about to start.

Plebe year was tough, but I made it through that year thanks to classmate comradery and my amazing sponsor family who have become like the grandparents I’ve never had.

That next summer, I had the opportunity to spend a little over a month on the Ronald Regan (Aircraft Carrier) in San Diego. Although I made lasting friendships with several of the sailors on that ship, I realized I never wanted to be stuck on a ship for days, weeks, or months at a time. I’m a mountain girl through and through — not seeing land for 30 days was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Youngster year (sophomore year) was much better than plebe year in terms of stress, school, and time management; but it had its own difficulties. (Maybe I’ll write about these in a future post?)

In the early spring of my Youngster year, I acquired bronchitis which turned into pneumonia. During this time, the Navy doctors X-rayed my back (to check my lungs for pneumonia) and told me I had what they considered “severe scoliosis”. The doctor I was seeing actually told me that I would be severely limited on the jobs I could select for commissioning assignments. My top choices at the time, Marine Corps or Navy Pilot, were ruled out.

During another examination, the doctors determined I couldn’t pass the depth perception tests, this time making the chances of selecting pilot impossible to appeal.

I started feeling angry, sad, and demotivated. My acne flared up, I gained weight, and I became irritable. I found myself crying sometimes — something I NEVER did.

I remember the night I made my decision to leave the Naval Academy (you are allowed to leave the academy before your junior year with an honorable discharge).

I remember texting my mom and telling her that I felt my purpose was elsewhere. I felt like I had a better opportunity to serve God and serve his people outside of the military — looking back, I’m not sure that last part is entirely true, but either way, making the decision to leave was the right choice for me.

I QUIT the biggest dream I have ever dreamed.

Flying from Kenai, AK to New Orleans, LA for a business convention

Things I quit after I left the Naval Academy

At the Naval Academy, I studied Systems Engineering (Robotics). I couldn’t have picked a more terrible major (no offense to you programming nerds out there, LOL). It just wasn’t for me, and so I switched majors. Because I already had several engineering credits, I figured I should probably stick with engineering.

I ended up at Montana Tech in Butte, MT and studied geological engineering. I hated it, but I finished out the year and decided to switch majors again.

So I moved back to my hometown of Billings, applied and transferred to Montana State University Billings, and pursued a degree in Business Marketing… for less than a semester.

After sitting in Native American History class, a Microsoft programs class, and several other freshmen level mandatory classes that I had covered at the previous two colleges I attended, I became bored, frustrated, and unmotivated.

So I dropped out.

I headed on over to my parents’ house and told my Dad I didn’t plan on finishing school. My dad was very concerned. He felt that I needed to finish what I’d started and that it was dumb to quit when I had gotten as far as I did. He didn’t understand how I planned to support myself in life without a degree. I told him it wasn’t his choice and that I’d already made the decision.

Then I called my mom and told her I withdrew from college. I was scared to tell her because I had mentioned the idea to her before and she started crying. She holds a lot of value in education because she wouldn’t have the amazing career she does without it. She also worked so hard and pulled a lot of strings to help me through college acceptance, switching majors, and dealing with financial aid. To my surprise, she said she supported my decision.

I quit college.

It was the most freeing feeling to stand up for myself and do something I wanted to do. Ever since I left the Naval Academy, college just didn’t seem like something for me.

Maybe it was because I had a huge obsession with hiking, fishing, and hunting, and school always managed to get in the way.

But I really believed it had a large part to do with the fact that I saw myself being an entrepreneur, and therefore not needing an education.

My first taste of being a business owner started during the summer after I left the Naval Academy. I had worked at earning my Certified Personal Training (CPT) license. I took on several clients and developed workout plans for them and made a little bit of cash. I realized how nice it was to help transform people’s health and be able to do it from home. However, it was A LOT of work, and I realized that I really didn’t feel qualified enough to charge people for that service.

So I quit that gig.

A few months later I was introduced to network marketing. A few months later, I was running a fairly successful online makeup business, making enough money to quit my job working at a restaurant and my job auditing paperwork at the school. I was making more money than most of my college student friends, developing a large clientele, and was feeling extremely confident. I loved the products and I loved that my clients loved the products.

A little over a year went by and I started feeling burnt out. I started getting frustrated over the amount of time and work I was putting into the business for little outcome. I still loved the products (and I will use the makeup for the rest of my life — it’s that good), but I couldn’t picture myself working that business for the rest of my life, and that made it hard to continue building that business.

So I quit my first network marketing business.

What I will say though, is that through these first ventures into being a business owner, I really began to read people and figure out who my friends were.

When I was in school fulltime, working, and running my business, I noticed I didn’t have a lot of time to invest in being social.

I realized that some of the people in my life that I considered friends did not put mutual effort into strengthening our relationships. They would call me when they needed something from me, but were always too busy to invest their time in me. This hurt, because I was really busy too.

Network marketing introduced me to the importance of personal development, and through a lot of my reading I learned that subtracting things from your life opens up opportunities for success and most importantly HAPPINESS.

Don’t get me wrong, I will continue being a listening ear for people out there in need of someone to talk to.

I will not use term friend as loosely anymore. If someone is my friend, they will mirror my values of loyalty, trust, and respect.

I will not let people use me or take advantage of me anymore. I will stand up for myself.

I quit putting time and effort into the relationships that were not serving me.

A typical day in the “office”

Although I quit, I quit with a plan

As you just read, I’ve quit a lot of things in the last couple years… and I can honestly say that only good things have come my way. (HA! Take that all you naysayers!)

I’ve had the courage to research and invest in business ventures that suit my personality to the core. These business ventures are things I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.

These business ventures allow me to genuinely connect with others, and hopefully inspire or influence them.

I am working for myself fulltime now, and I will admit it is a bit scary. I saved up enough money over the last few months that I have the means to survive without an income for a little while. And not working is allowing me invest FULL-TIME in creating my dream life and purposeful work.

That being said, I do have a steady stream of income rolling in now, and although it’s not enough to support me and a family in the long term, it’s growing each day and month.

No good things come from a comfort zone and I have to say, I am out of my comfort zone, it’s exciting and scary… but I know with time, prayer, and hard work, the results will come.

All smiles — I’m finally pursuing my dream life!

So, as promised, here’s Why I’m Proud of Being a QuitterIf you never quit some of the things you do, there will be no room for new things.

Here’s what I mean…

If I would have never quit the Naval Academy, I would have never discovered my true potential or had an opportunity to dream big dreams again.

I would have never started writing, or realized that my words influence and motivate others around me.

I would have never built a network with like-minded people who inspire me every day.

I would have never had an opportunity to DIRECTLY help others change their life.

I would have never discovered my passion, purpose, and calling in life.

So yes, I am proud of being a quitter. Taking a quitter has forced me to have faith, forced me to work hard, forced me to have a vision, and forced me to think of others before myself.

At the same time, being a quitter has made me devote more time in taking care of ME — physically and emotionally.

It has allowed me to see what’s possible in this life — if you want to work from home, travel the world, and spend more time doing what you love, YOU CAN.

I am proud to say that because I am a quitter, I will never have to work the Corporate America grind again. I will never have to turn in another résumé or prepare for a job interview.

I am proud to say that I can wear sweats to “work” every day of the week if I want to.

Most importantly, I’m proud that I am able to stand up for myself. I am proud that, even when I’m scared, I have the courage to move forward with a vision in mind and a dream to keep chasing.

Photo Credit: Crown Point Outdoors, LLC.

Before I finish, I have three things to say….

  1. I will continue to QUIT the things that don’t serve my happiness and my purpose.
  2. I will pursue relentlessly the things that do serve my happiness and purpose, even when times get tough.
  3. I hope you build the courage to do the same.

Connect Further

*I’m curious… does this change your perspective on quitting? I’d love to hear your stories on the things you’ve QUIT in life and how’ve they’ve brought you to where you are today.

**Yes I encourage QUITTING… but please weigh your decisions to “quit” heavily beforehand. I don’t want to be getting any emails from parents saying their children quit college because I told them I did! LOL

**If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my email list for future posts and my monthly motivational newsletter. Just mention you’d like to subscribe. 🙂

(I promise I will not spam you with emails… I hate that too!)

XOXO,

Maranda Ratcliff

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