Everyone hold up your white flag. So much of the time it feels like we’re at war. Every day is a battle we have to win. But, what if we stop fighting? Is it even possible? To stop attacking other people and ourselves, and just surrender?
This is a line from one of the most underrated shows ever on television– Huge. It only ran for one season and ironically, I never watched it while it was on. However, I often find myself going back to it because of the relatable characters who, among other things, constantly seem to struggle against the expectations that are being put on them, by themselves or by others.
As children, we’re taught to never give up. Adversity, we are told, is character building. The blisters on our hands eventually become calluses. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
I recently found myself in a certain situation:
I had trying my absolute HARDEST, putting my heart and soul into this thing I had been working toward. I was losing sleep, crying, and essentially going to war for the thing that I most wanted to achieve. And, even after all that emotional turmoil, I still found myself in the face of certain failure, at least in my own eyes.
It was then I had a choice–
I could continue doing what I was doing, give up every ounce of myself and go down swinging until the bitter end.
I could choose to no longer give up the best parts of myself to something that would not appreciate them.
If the title of this blog is any indication I chose the latter.
Still, I am all in favor of striving for your best and always raising the bar and your expectations. So what’s the happy medium? When do we have permission to “give up” ? How can you surrender sweetly?
Here’s what I think…
Know your powers and use them…
If you’re reading this blog, I can tell you right now you are a swirling pool of amazing talents, gifts, and abilities. You may know some and some may still be a mystery, but it’s up to you to discover the things that make you powerful.
First thing’s first, when you’re faced with a difficult situation, make sure you know what tools you have to support you.
…but don’t give them up.
There is a difference between using your power and giving it up. Using your power means knowing what you can do (and can’t do) to influence and shape a situation and doing that. It even means knowing the boundaries and pushing them.
Giving up your power entails tapping into that best part of yourself Let’s think about the Pareto-Principle or as I like to call it the “80/20” rule. Your abilities are your 20% that will yield most of the results. The best part of you is the 80%. Save that 80% for situations where it will actually get you to where you want to be — or better! If it won’t, save your power and focus on the 20% you can control. In other words, let your power work for you but don’t just give it away for stuff that isn’t worth it.
Take a good hard look at the situation and your own expectations of what success and failure are. Part of surrendering gracefully can also mean surrendering what you had hoped to achieve. Be realistic about everything you’ve already done, what still needs to get done and what’s really non-negotiable. And, keep in mind that sometimes even what you thought was non-negotiable will have to be sacrificed in the end.
Being honest involves being straightforward with others and with yourself. If you know that you are at your limit make sure you let people (teammates, friends, or family). The people you tell may not be able to do anything to alleviate the situation, but letting them know your feelings and state of mind will allow them to support you in whatever ways that you need.
More then that though, make sure that you take a mental note of when you’ve reached your limit and can articulate why you made the decision to surrender. If it helps, write it down or say it out loud. It will make it less big and scary. Also, you’ll have it for later so that you’ll know better what to prepare for if you find yourself in a similar situation.
As #millennials with high access to aspirational stories through the media, I think we are constantly pushing ourselves to achieve the same levels of success, beauty, riches, fame, etc. As #quarterlifers we begin to question ourselves even further, and look toward these aspirations to re-frame our journeys. Where are we going? Are we doing the right thing? Are we doing enough of the right thing? What does “right thing” even mean? We truly are at war in our own minds.
Stop. It’s okay.