Outgrowing something is not the same as quitting something 


We outgrow our clothes. We outgrow our shoes. We outgrow our classes and our beds and the immense interest that we had for ballet at the age of eight. 

Outgrowing, as oxymoronic as it might be, is an essential part of growing. 

Why is it, then, that when a person states that they have outgrown a previous high school commitment, they are immediately labeled as a quitter? Shoved aside with the rest of the academic or athletic club “dropouts,” those who are able to articulate that their interests have changed are shunned and shushed. 

Yes, a sport or club or any other extracurricular activity that requires a form is a commitment. When you say that you agree to participate for that season, you have committed to the others who have also agreed to participate with you. What you do not agree to, however, is a four year contract that forbids you from leaving. Signing up to play a sport one year and deciding not to do it the next isn’t quitting; it’s having the ability to say, “this is no longer right for me, and for that reason I have decided not to sign up this year.” 

“I have decided not to sign up this year.” 

Not, “I’m walking out of practice and never coming back.” Not, “I’m disrespecting my coach and all of my fellow team members.” Not, “I’m quitting.” 

Adults all around us are constantly encouraging us to grow and change, especially in high school. These are the times when you’ll find yourself, they say; but, when “finding yourself” includes choosing one prior interest for another, new interest, they take it back. 

In a more “real-world setting,” this type of behavior is accepted and even encouraged. Leaving something in pursuit of a better, more fulfilling, better paying, etc. something is celebrated as a step forward. Why is it that our steps forward in high school must be measured by four years of continuous medals, awards, and honors from the same two or three activities? 

Outgrowing, as oxymoronic as it might be, is an essential part of growing. 

The answer is control. As much as we would like to believe that, as we age we gain more and more control over our hobbies, interests, and how our time is spent, that is not always the case. In a world of boxes, high school attempts to get us to conform to the four-year box. Inside of this box, there is only room for exploration if it does not interfere with the activities that already reside inside. This, I’ve come to realize, is not an accurate or fair depiction of how the world is, or should be. 

Our boxes should always be growing. They should always be expanding in order to fill with more things, better things, more interesting things. Continuing to participate in something that no longer brings you the joy that it once did is a waste of your time, and, frankly, a waste of everyone else’s time.