Ever met a person that persistently can’t make ends meet? Or they just get so close and say, “Nope! I don’t think I can do this!” It’s funny a lot of people give me praise for learning languages, or traveling, etc, but most people don’t realize that I don’t consider myself successful in them.
Wait, hold up. Are you trying to beat yourself up, Nina? Are you talking down to yourself? Well to some it may seem like I’m talking myself down, but in reality I’m just trying to come to grips with why in my eyes I give up easily.
There are a few players in the ring. Confidence. Motivation. Determination. Discipline. What have I given up on easily? Lots of things. I gave up on the fact that I will ever be really good at a language. People tell me that they are amazed that I speak Korean, or am now learning Tibetan. But to know why I view this as giving up easily you need to understand the journey along the way. I have the motivation to learn languages.
When I was in university I studied Japanese, because I was motivated by my desire to watch Japanese dramas, listen to Japanese music, and read Japanese manga. I also wanted to be able to talk with my Japanese friends. But motivation only carries a person so far. I didn’t have the determination, discipline, or confidence to support further learning. Slowly as my grades dropped rather than fail because I lacked those three skills, I switched to a different major that required less effort on my behalf.
Korean was the same. I learned a little here and there on Saturdays back in 2006 and never progressed past the beginner level. After that I’d pick up a book, study a bit, and not look at it again for months. I was a very passive learner. I had lots of motivation, but I lacked the same three skills. Eventually, when I moved to Korea I was forced to gain confidence in what I knew to function easier in society. About a year and a half in I gained some discipline and determination and finished a language program. I am still only at the high-intermediate level. There is a lot that I don’t know and I’m at a point where I’ve lost my determination to continue so I’m giving up on progressing more in Korean.
I can say that I give up easily when things don’t go well, too. I want to lose weight and get healthy. I have the motivation and sometimes the determination to do so. I lack the discipline and confidence to make it through the first or second week. You can normally hear me making a slew of excuses or rather, “I can’t. I can’t.” To the point I get so frustrated with myself I begin crying and give up. Nothing is easy and even I know it takes time and discipline to get better at things. But because I am not good at something I get frustrated with myself and lose confidence in my ability to succeed despite how I really feel. I will give up easily. Sometimes someone will tell me, try this or see if this works. Before I even start I just say,
“There is no point. It’s not gonna work anyways, so why bother?”
I have a defeatist mentality. Waking up everyday with this mentality is extremely exhausting. All I do is recount all the things that may or could go wrong. Or all the things that I want, but don’t have which shit, “must be my luck in life.” The defeatist kills the day before you even open your eyes. Most of the time I try to stay in the middle a blunt realist: which comes off as quite down-trodden and pessimistic. Yet, for me I have to think like that , because if something is worse and I’m hoping for the best I can’t handle it.
Sometimes I wonder if the way I think has a direct correlation on my life. Sometimes I spew positive affirmations and well wishes for the future. When I get no response, I get bitter and the negativity crawls in. It tells me over and over that there is no point in trying. You’ll never be good at it anyways. Someone will always be better. Someone will always have what you want. If it hasn’t happened so far it’s not going to and you just need to accept that.
The defeatist in me is a cruel bitch. She tramples on my hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Giving up is easy. Once I decide I’m done, it’s done. I’ll believe that this is as far as I can go in whatever it is I gave up on. However, occasionally stubbornness pays a visit and picks up the shit I gave up on and wants me to revisit it. So I do, and I give up again. My tiny determination wants me to succeed, but it just won’t come through. I keep thinking it will happen or I’ll succeed at something, I don’t know why my brain views giving up easily as a good thing. Now that might seem weird, but it’s the only conclusion I can come to.
How can giving up be a good thing?
It saves me grief if I fail, since I already gave up on myself and what I wanted to accomplish. Giving up allows me to deal with only my current jumble of emotions instead of adding more shit to the pile. It makes sense since I am overly sensitive anyways to protect myself from feeling more hurt or disappointed in myself. I never realized it until now, but it makes me breathe easier knowing that maybe my mind isn’t so horrible after all.
I’m an overly emotional human being. I think and over-analyze and give myself ten thousand reasons for ‘no’ and struggle to find one ‘yes.’ All those reasons to give up easily make me feel unfinished and less than others.
There are ways of giving up easily and giving up for the right reasons. For a long time I looked at my failed marriage from the outside and always thought I felt under the scrutiny of others for giving up too easily. For Fuck’s sake it’s a marriage, go get some counseling and make that shit work. A lot of people are under the belief that all marriages should work or we should make them that way. This concept was very hard for me to digest, when I made the decision to give up on my marriage instead of futilely fixing what was broken. Yet, somehow, because it was short it was seen as worse, even in my own eyes. I viewed myself as someone who gives up easily even on the harder things in life. I’ve spent the last few years since the divorce knowing I made the right choice and feeling like a failure from ‘giving up too easily’ in the eyes of society.
What I give up on can sometimes come easily and most of the time I believe that I defeat myself by believing that no matter what I give up on the result is the same. I give up too easily. Which stems from the fact that I don’t believe in myself and my abilities. And yet, this belief of giving up easily should not be applied to all decisions, because even I know there is a difference between them.
When I give up easily I’m upset for a bit and I might view myself poorly. However, when it comes down to the rough decisions in life it can’t even hold a candle to them. The magnitude of emotions that I experience with a tough decision ahead of me is like a tidal wave of anxiety, grief, and pain I can’t describe. My heart races, it gets hard to breathe, and all I can feel are the tears escaping my eyes as I cry out of sorrow and beat my chest to make the pain subside. It’s a very raw feeling that I have only experienced twice in the last 5 years.
It’s not an I’m giving up easily decision, it’s an I can’t deal with this anymore and I need some relief decision. This is the higher part of me that knows on the surface level I will judge myself as weak and someone who always gives up. Deep down I know that I didn’t give up easily, no I fought a long tiring battle and it is time to draw the curtain on this act of my life. It’s time to make that decision out of respect for myself knowing in full confidence it to be the right decision for me at this time in my life.
The truth is liberating as hell, but it hurts. I always believe that maybe I spare all my fighting energy for the hard battles which leaves the smaller battles to end in defeat. I lose a lot of small battles when I give up easily, I’ve never lost a battle in which I have faced that wave of emotion. I may have been dragged down gasping for breath, but when I resurface I always find that one life raft waiting for me. This feeling has since helped me come to the recent decision to close my chapter of life in Korea and jump into the unknown future.
Life is funny sometimes. As much of an emotional wreck as I am I can truly appreciate how my emotions help me navigate the big decisions in life. Now I just need to turn to myself before I give up on the small things and ask,
“Why are you giving up?”
“Can’t you try again?”
I’ve always told myself that tomorrow was another day. This time i’m going to put some confidence into those words and realize it’s okay to give up when I feel overwhelmed. But next time I’m going to try and dig deeper and see what I’m trying to tell myself when I feel the need to give up. At the end of the day there is always a reason no matter how well hidden as to why we do things.