The Apache Pow Wow

When It’s Okay to Give Up

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When It’s Okay to Give Up

Kayli Mak, Staff Writer

I have never been the type of person to throw my hands up, drop whatever I am doing, and give up. Sure, I have occasionally been the type of person to throw my hands up, drop whatever I am doing, and say that I am giving up, but that never sticks for long.

Giving up is difficult for me. Since I was born, my parents have told me that giving up is for losers who want to amount to nothing in life. To give in is to surrender yourself to a life of unhappiness and dishonor upon your family cow or something like that. I have seen them yell at my brother for letting go of his math grades. I have, in many instances, heard my grandmother yell at my uncle (in various languages) for not finishing college, because his lack of motivation at the university has supposedly led to his lack of career success.

I have been taught to never throw in the towel.

I have been taught to fear backing down.

That is what everything in my life became about. The ability to give up was the forbidden fruit, the thing I yearned to have but could never touch.

“Don’t give up on taekwondo!”, my father insisted as I came home with a massive bruise on my forehead. The instructor kicked me in the head and some kid next to me had peed all over the mat (and my foot), and I was going to stick with that horrible activity for three more years? It was one of the many things I hated, yet I suffered in silence for years, because quitting anything—even one of my least favorite activities of all time—was taboo.

There have been plenty of things I have wanted to give up on: piano, Chinese classes, the Chinese language, SAT classes, art, dance, Pre-Calculus Honors, school in general, and doing anything in general. There was a point in my life where I was convinced that if I had to keep juggling all of my responsibilities, I was going to somehow explode into a million pieces and melt into a big, sad, uncleanable puddle. Yet, I have continued to move forward.

Is it because, in the back of my mind, I think that the world will end if I decide not to continue my knitting project?

Yes, probably.

Even with the little things, I think that some people have this little voice in their head—possibly with the same tone and accent of their angry grandmother—telling them that quitting is unacceptable. The consequences are dire, and the repercussions are unimaginable.

But I don’t think they are. Sometimes, it’s necessary to just pull your hands back and say, “Enough is enough.”

I never enjoyed taekwondo, and I have always been entirely certain that learning one specific kicking routine will never come in handy in a dark alley at night, because I am even more sure that no attacker will strike with the exact same offensive technique as Master Han. It was completely unnecessary and, like many of my activities, probably damaging to my emotional health.

Giving up may have a negative connotation to it, and it really shouldn’t. Sure, it isn’t ideal to give up on anything and everything, especially not the things that are really important in life, but abandoning toxic people, activities, and habits is like going into rehab. It is likely going to be difficult and painful, but you’ll be all the better for it.

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When It’s Okay to Give Up