I recently drafted a post titled The Squeaky Wheel Doesn’t Always Get The Grease–Sometimes It Gets The Shaft. I had been feeling sassy in my righteous indignation when I began to sequence my thoughts that particular day–not feeling defeated like I am feeling today. Whichever your preferred metaphor for giving up is? I’m that.
Not long ago I’d referenced and linked to a post Wil Wheaton developed in his fantastic blog about doing something today for which future you would be thankful–be kind to future you. If you didn’t read it then, you really should read it now, and not simply because I think it’s a good idea, but because it IS a good idea. Click here to be linked to Wil’s blog post. That idea, the idea that I should treat myself kindly snuck into my brain today, and by lunch time had moved in, unpacked all its boxes, and consumed every molecule of grey matter. Joke if you must about the limited amount of grey matter I’ve got left, but every last neuron was occupied.
I decided that if I were my friend, I would want someone to tell me this. I would want someone to be brutally honest, supportive and real, and say, “Hey, hon. Give it up. It’s time. It’s just time.” Then I’d maybe lean in a little bit, breathe deeply, buy myself a minute to corral the tears before they spilled over onto my cheeks, and linger just a moment longer. I’d let me know that it’s important to recognize effort, for which surely I’d be awarded an “A.” I’m nothing if not a conscientious student. I earn an “A” for effort, but a “D” for execution. But it’d be the hardest fought “D” in history, and even a “D” is better than failure. I’ve not gotten lower than a “B” since high school physics, but I’ll print this “D” on a t-shirt, and wear it proudly. Eventually.
I was that friend to myself. I surrendered. I listened to me, my own best friend today, and ever-so-reluctantly followed her ever-so-unwelcome advice. I will have to find a way to make that fit with forty-nine years of blind faith and commitment to doing what I believe to be the right thing.
I (hope I) have instilled in my children the importance of perseverance and the payoff for careful, thoughtful, conscientious work. Just last night I was reading my seventh-grader’s English/Language Arts essay, and I asked him to evaluate it. His response was that he thought his essay was good-(long pause)-ish. I told him that “Good-ish was bullshit” (yes, that’s a quote), and not to bother until his essay was as good as he could make it. My kid was SO MAD at me for pushing him to rewrite until his content was as good as he could put on paper, like Pissed off with a capital P. Once his edits were done, and he finally got it all on paper, I asked that he evaluate his essay again. He smirked, avoided eye contact a bit, and declared it was indeed a better piece, admitting he was happy he worked hard on it. Most often perseverance is critical to one’s successes in life. For this kid in particular, perseverance will matter more than it will for most.
Never give up simply because something is difficult. What kind of mother and role model would I be if I gave up simply because something was hard?
But what kind of mother persists in the face of no and no and no and no? What kind of model is that for a young man? Wasn’t it attributed to Einstein that the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Perseverance is not the same as insanity.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to him. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.–George Bernard Shaw
Even rats know when to abandon a sinking ship. Thank you, @wilw, for the reminder to be good to me.