21 March 2015


Noun. A short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals guiding an individual, family, or an institution.

Give up giving up.

The fifteen-year-old version of myself heard this phrase at a leadership lecture given by a high school/college-band-director-turned-motivational-speaker and ignored it in favor of his more "tangible" advice.

The next year, my sixteen-year-old self didn't attend. I'd forgotten all of his points and didn't care to try to remember. It was a low point in my history as a leader.

At seventeen, I was reminded why I loved leadership; it renewed my zeal and strengthened my determination. That year, when I heard him say those words, my ears perked up. What an interesting concept.

I liked to scrawl the sentence on pieces of notebook paper, in the margins of Calculus homework; I liked to edit photos of landscape and overlay the words in pretty fonts over trees and ships' masts and lakes. (And then post those on Instagram.)

The way those words sound together- euphonic. The ebb and flow of the syllables. I just enjoyed the music of it. Not until later did I start thinking about the meaning.

I mean, it's fairly straightforward. Give up giving up. Nothing to analyze there.

The concept is so simple, and yet in practice, I've found it to be one of the most difficult rules to follow.

I've realized just how quick I am to quit. I'm so easily discouraged. I find a task or assignment trying or frustrating, so I half-ass it because some points is better than no points and throw it away, feeling dissatisfied. I walk into lessons or lectures, already thinking up excuses or shortcuts, figuring numbers to find what the minimum amount of effort I can put in is and still maintain my GPA.

This motto is in almost complete opposition to who I am as a person. If something doesn't come easily to me, I psych myself up with try harder, it'll happen, give it some time. And then I make excuses, or I procrastinate; I avoid doing whatever it is until it's a distant memory and I'm wondering, why didn't that ever work out?

I've spent the past year trying to incorporate this phrase into my every day life and so far the only success I've had has been not giving up on trying to do so. Every goal I've worked towards in the past twelve months, both large and small, has ended with me completely forgetting about these words. Whether I achieve my ends or not, my utter lack of conviction in their attempts leaves me with an unsavory feeling. To me, not giving up includes one-hundred-percent effort.

So it's been hard, trying to live up to these words, but for some reason they're always tumbling around in my head. And even though keeping them with me throughout the past year has been the one thing I haven't given up on halfway through, it's still something. I'll hold onto that, at least.


  1. The important thing is that you recognize the problem, that is the first step! I deal with the same issue. I found on Instagram #The100DayProject, it started this past Monday but it is not too late for you to catch up. It is helping me be accountable in a group setting and hopefully accomplish my 100 days! Best of luck!

  2. Sounds like a great mental discipline to practise!