I don’t know how to quit. I’m not a quitter. I know when to walk away because something is over, and I see that as a huge difference to quitting.
People are allllllllways asking me “Jay how the hell do you do so much stuff? What can’t you do?”
I do so much stuff because, quite simply, I can. I literally don’t have time to listen to people telling me what I can and can’t do. So I go off and do the things I want to do, be the things I want to be, see the things I want to see.
It’s a wonderful thing called “determination”. And I’d like to think I’m one of the most determined motherfuckers you might ever meet. (My mother calls it “being stubborn and determined”. I like to think it’s a fine balance of those two things, plus a bunch of other stuff.)
I don’t set out in life to be some kind of over-achiever. But, I’ve known from day damn one that my entire life was going to be an uphill battle. I mean, I was born a black female in a white-man’s Britain for crying out loud. Then as it turned out, I didn’t care much for sticking purely with the reggae and soul music foist upon me by my dad, preferring to listen to everything and anything (including garage, house, rock, indie, pop, and especially classical music). And then most of my friends were white or Asian; the few black friends I had were – well, there was a black girl who played cello who disappeared off the planet, and I black guy whom I was literally in love with for years but it was never gonna happen because he was a stud, and I was a geek.
(Years, Mr B. Freaking YEARS. Damn you and your handsome, super popular, high-school-jock ways.)
Then the recurring pattern of being told “Jay you’re a brilliant cellist!” and then in the same breath “yeah we’re kicking you out of xyz because insert-fucking-ridiculous-and-sometimes-racist-reason-here”.
It’s not that I purposely made things “difficult” for myself, either. By the time I made it to age 10-ish and realised there was something wrong with my head (discovering 8 years later I’d been suffering from depression), I could see life was repeatedly going to throw shit-balls at me.
I had to grow an armour of fucking titanium, throw myself out into the world, and find my way.
It became apparent very quickly that very few people had genuine faith in me. I wasn’t sure why, at the time. Though looking back, maybe a lot of it was for the reasons listed above. And none of it, absolutely none of it made sense at the time.
I had to fight. I had to learn to fight excruciatingly difficult battles, every single step of the way. When you’re 16 years old, and even forcing yourself to wake up and get out of bed is a battle, you discover your strengths very quickly. When you’ve stared hell and all it’s brimstone directly in the face, when you’ve bathed in its lava pits and survived, when you’ve literally died repeatedly and somehow always come back, you realise just how strong you are.
You also realise that, at the end of the day, you can pretty much achieve anything you like. Some things might seem impossible, some things will be taken away, and some things will serve no purpose to you at all.
I’ve found that out.
I’ve tried to do a number of things which have served me no purpose whatsoever. I’ve put my name down for stuff I needn’t have done, I’ve tried to join things which were of no use to me, and tried to partake in stuff which, quite frankly, would have taken me in completely the wrong direction. (Including taking me back a few steps, rather than progressing forward.)
I know why I’ve done these things. I like to…well…I like to test myself, to see where my boundaries lie, to see if the goal posts of my life have expanded a little. It’s important, for me, because complacency and comfort are really fucking dull. I don’t have time for those things, At All.
I’m not religious. I don’t believe in “one god”, or any god. But I do believe that we have the power to control our own lives entirely. I don’t believe in coincidence, or in happy accidents. I believe in fate, I believe everything happens for a reason, and I especially believe that we can take those moments, turn them around, and own them “like a bawse“.
Even the shit that gets thrown at me. And I need to remember that, as someone who is like one of those end level bosses that just will not fucking die already, I’ll mostly likely sit with that shit for a little while, realise it’s not even my shit to deal with, get the fuck back up, throw that shit down, and be all:
(That’s a Shinku Hadoken, to you and me.)
I’ll keep fighting. I’ll always keep fighting, because I have to. No one – and I do mean no one – can tell me what I can and can’t do. Unless it’s something like, I dunno, become the king of Scotland.
(I don’t think that’s something I’d want to do anyway, but I’d bet if I reeeeeeeally put my mind to it, I could make it happen somehow. Even as I’m typing this, my brain is already figuring out a way…)
For me, nothing is impossible. (Almost nothing? Absolutely nothing? I don’t know. I’ve not tried everything, soooooo.)
The wake up call was my recent rejection for a course at the Conservatoire; they stated “you’re not quite ready (can we suggest a year of study with us first, then reapply?), also, you being a mom of 2 suggests you probably won’t have enough time to dedicate to your profession.”
Shit like this quite literally gives me more strength, more ammunition, to fight harder, and go at things a different way.
When all the doors are closed sometimes you’re better off making your own building.
Doors close in my face every goddamn day. All the time. However, I spend a loooooot of time looking into the other doors which are still very much wide open. The fact is, if I set my sights on something, as I have done many times in my life, I won’t be quitting any time soon. I will not step back, or stand down, or move over, or whatever. I set my goals because I want to live my fullest life, because I respect the importance of being me. If there’s something I want, and people want to stand in my way, then that’s absolutely fine. I know why people want to stand in my way, and I never ever take it personally; because someone else’s behaviour is never my problem (unless I taught them to behave that way. I’m hoping like crazy that I’m better than that, though). Even more so, being pushed down only serves to make me stronger, because it’s an exercise in getting the fuck back up again. Fuck knows I’ve done that enough times. Sometimes I’ll leap up, sometimes I’ll crawl up, sometimes I’ll sit there in a fucking daze, trying to process wtf just happened.
But I’ll always get back up.
I’m not a quitter. And no one can tell me when to quit.