I gave up on giving up!
Have you ever felt so pushed to a corner, that you thought the easiest way “out” was giving up?
NO! This is not an article on suicide prevention.
Most often, life feels so excruciatingly unbearable that giving up feels like the easiest solution. But if you haven’t already realised by the title, the only thing you should give up is giving up. Makes sense? Here’s why — the definition of the phrase “give up” is “to cease making an effort”. The mere definition of this word tells us that giving up is to stop without even trying. So, if you don’t try and therefore don’t know, how do you know that you can’t, won’t or don’t want to?
Let me put things into perspective by way of an analogy. My life was (and sometimes still is) a melting pot of negativity; part self-inflicted, part environmental. I once told myself that I wasn’t smart enough to earn an education and I kept making this excuse for years on end. As a teenager, I did alright at my Ordinary Levels and failed accounting at my Advanced Levels. As an adult, I attempted a professional qualification, but I didn’t see it through to the end. Right throughout my school career, the most common feedback my parents heard was that “he is smart, but he doesn’t want to apply himself”. It was repeated so often that my parents should’ve tattooed it onto themselves — “my son is smart, but he doesn’t want to apply himself”. I was conditioned to give up before even starting. I chose to give up.
I know everyone blames society, blames the education system, blame the government, blame their mother, father, fruit, flower and Holy Ghost. They blame everyone and everything before they blame themselves. What I’ve realised over the years is that giving up is a personal choice. And before I start sounding guru-esque or like a dull, unoriginal motivational speaker, let me tell you that it simply boils down to knowing who you are, what you are capable of and what you can offer to the world and NOT (I repeat NOT) what is expected of you. It’s perfectly alright to not know everything, to not have a talent, not to be an expert in anything. I was browsing through Instagram and happened upon a meme which read — “The razor is sharp but can’t cut a tree; the axe is strong but can’t cut hair. Everyone is important according to their own unique purpose”. True enough, yes?
However, this shouldn’t be construed to think that being complacent is suddenly going to make your life better — it won’t. Not giving up entails a lot of hard graft on the road to success. In my case, I’m an average Joe (it’s Dilesh, really!) on a quest to continuous self-improvement and self-learning. I find unspeakable joy in adding knowledge to my life and failing. I love failing. I thrive on failure. I’m a proud failure.
“FAILURE???” You may ask. “Isn’t that what everyone tries to avoid in life?”, “isn’t that what this post is trying to talk us out of?”. Absolutely and most certainly NOT! Giving up and Failure are two different concepts. In fact, they are from two different stratospheres. The key differentiator between the two is intent. If you give up, that is your intent — it is preconceived. Failure is consequential — the intent is to succeed. Going back to my analogy — telling myself that I was not smart enough was preconceived. It was my intent and therefore, I gave up. But there came a moment in my life not too long ago where I gave up on giving up and told myself that I already have nothing, I’m already stupid, I’m already insignificant and therefore had nothing to lose if I tried. I dreamed the impossible and enrolled myself into a Master’s program and was accepted (barely; by the skin of everyone’s teeth). If I failed, I wouldn’t have lost anything because I had nothing to lose, to begin with.
I approached this challenge with the intension of learning and adding knowledge rather than earning a piece of hardboard and three letters, MBA in front of my name. And learn I did. I was a sponge. I wanted to succeed and consequentially failed many times in the process. I read, I watched, I analysed, I collaborated. Long story short, I passed with astronomically high success, with 100% attendance and successfully defending a thesis in Emotional Intelligence; while being a full-time parent (of course with a great support system in my wife, parents and in-laws) and managing a full-time job.
My intention here is not to gloat but to relate to someone on a deeper level and help everybody realise that by not doing anything, you’re not failing. You’re giving up. Remember — anything in life is achievable with the right intention and a simple choice to give up on giving up.
Dilesh Dias (@dileshdias)