Sometimes Winners Do Quit

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I like control. I like to know where I am going, what to expect, and how it will all turn out. Family and friends understand that I am no commitment phobe. I go all in with eight heart emojis on my sleeve. I don’t give up– even when the project becomes unhealthy and self-destructive. Isn’t the saying “no pain, no game?” If I don’t invest completely, I won’t be able to enjoy all the benefits. Right?

This past summer I enrolled in a foreign language class. I was pumped because I wanted to learn Japanese for a long time, like the entire series of Naruto-long. Did I forget to mention that it counted for five credits? Yeah, I thought it was no big deal, too. I had faith in my brainpower and trust in my studying skills. And pixie dust! I was thinking happy thoughts, like Peter Pan tells us to. I was totally prepared.

Little did I know that all the surprised gasps and exclamations from my family and friends translated into “What have you done?” in English. I came to realize too late that the class that I looked forward to the most made me feel like I was walking the plank.

The first day of class went great. I participated, listened to my teacher and joked around with my new classmates. I was proud of my language textbooks fresh off the shelves of the overpriced student bookstore and eager to become the teacher’s favorite fluent student.

When drop/add period ended, the teacher announced that students had left the class. “That is very good,” he said. We all laughed at this offhanded comment, believing that we were better than those silly (smart) and undetermined (again, smart!) students who dropped out. At the time, I still believed I was cool as a cucumber and totally on top of everything, from the tests and quizzes that came every other day, to the twenty-plus pages of homework I needed to do Every. Single. Night.

Three days later, I finally came to accept the terrible truth: I was going to bomb the class. The stress of the class’s Hulk-sized workload put my sanity and health in jeopardy. When my sensee gave us a quiz on hiragana, I thought I would ace it. Instead I spent the last few minutes struggling to write down my answers and received a bad grade for my efforts.

I lugged heavy supplies to and from the class and strained my fragile back in the process. Every night when I was enrolled in the class was spent desperately trying to finish the twenty-plus page homework assigned and due the next day. I was expected to learn and memorize new words and phrases every day, and I was obligated to participate in class by speaking in Japanese in order to absorb the entire lessons for the day.

My health crumbled into migraines, back pain and stomach cramps, and any happiness I collected in anticipation for the Japanese class drained away into depression and tears. It reached the breaking point–the one that every college student recognizes–the crying phone call to your mom. My mother, being the wise woman that she is, advised me to drop the class. Say whaaat? No way, I told her. One, my parents paid for my books and two, it was just the first week.

With tears in my eyes I insisted that I could pull through, but my mom knows me better than I do. She reminded me that my health was of utmost priority and I needed to look after myself. My mom also told me that my family was in enough financial security that the money spent on the class would be of little consequence. To her and my father, my well being was more important than hundreds of dollars. My mom’s calm attitude and (come on, let’s be honest) common sense convinced me of the severity of my situation and I gave in. In the end, my mother was right. I told my teacher my situation, turned in a medical withdrawal form, and left the class for good.

Looking back, I’m so glad that I listened to my mom’s advice and went with my heart on dropping the class. Yeah, it sucked that I had to leave it, but I was able to remain a fully enrolled student and kick butt in my other class since I no longer had to scramble to finish my assignments and feel like Chris Pratt going up against the Raptor Squad of Stress, Anxiety, Frustration, and I-Am-Going-Insane.

I warned you I’m a sore loser, but I’m also human (a recent discovery). In a strange way, I’m happy that I learned to bear my Scarlet F so early on in my college career. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The world did not succumb to fire and ice, the zombie apocalypse did not arrive early, and I made it through the first half of summer classes with my sanity intact.

Okay, okay. Most of my sanity.

Rocio Cosme is a sophomore majoring in English at University of Florida. She enjoys reading, writing, singing, crushing over fictional boys in her favorite books, and free hugs.

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