By: Clara Mastronardi, Unsettled Experience Leader
My name is Clara Mastronardi and I’m here to tell my story- a story about quitting.
No. Wait a minute. Let me reframe it.
My name is Clara Mastronardi and I’m here to tell my story- a story about seeking.
Growing up and especially after finishing high school, I became a pro quitter. I quit jobs and entire careers, I quit hobbies and entire lifestyles. From med school all the way to acting school, from wanting to pursue a career in the corporate sector to working for the government. All through my 20s I became an expert in the act of quitting.
Every time I had to explain a new quitting story, I drowned in embarrassment. I asked for forgiveness and I justified myself to my family and friends promising that the next step would be the final one. The settling stone. The forever one.
And that was the label I carried in my forehead for many years. I was Clari the quitter who couldn’t finish what she started. Clari who was always involved in a new venture which- let’s face it- was not going to last.
However, despite all of the shame and pain involved, no one and nothing stopped me from doing what I was really really good at: quitting.
In 2017, after 4 years of working for the Ministry of Culture in Buenos Aires, I decided, once again, to quit my job. I had a pretty solid position and an offer to pursue a career in politics. But something about all of it didn’t resonate with me. There was no excitement, no newness. And I knew deep inside, that that was not the path I wanted to follow. In July of that year I resigned from my job with the only plan of doing Unsettled in Bali and then traveling in Asia with my backpack and no return ticket.
Somewhere along the way, between being challenged by being by myself, facing loneliness, and meeting inspiring people from all around the world, it hit me. It took me years to realize that quitting is only one side of the coin called life. I was quitting in order to get something better, when I got too comfortable, or when things got too boring, or the results too predictable. Or when the lifestyle that came along with the choices I’ve made, didn’t resonate with me anymore.
So I wasn’t quitting, I was seeking.
While quitting puts the accent in the past, in what we left behind, in that which was not accomplished, seeking on the contrary focuses on the present, on experiences, and looks forward. One highlights our weaknesses. The other highlights our strengths.
Our brains are wired to think about all the worst case scenarios possible. That reptilian brain is responsible for our negativity bias as a result of the need for survival. So paying attention only to the dark side of the coin is unfortunately an instant and innate reaction. We need to train ourselves to see the bright side, to focus not only on what we leave behind, but also on what we want to build for ourselves.
Try telling your own story in that way: highlighting your strengths. You might be able to see a completely new you.