sometimes you do have to fold ’em

Kristan Hoffman had an interesting blog post called “Have You Done Absolutely Everything You Can to Reach Your Dreams?

In it, she links to an essay by a football player who has persisted and who made the NFL despite obstacles, including being considered “too short.”

My comment was this:

I’ve seen people take these stories in two different ways. Some people think, “Hey, this person tried and tried and never gave up and eventually got where they wanted to go. So, if I do all that, I’ll get the same result.”

Well, no. Probably not. These stories become news because they are the exception. And a lot of other people, the ones who didn’t get there, they probably wanted it just as much.

But here’s the lesson I do take from that, and I think it’s a really important one.

What do you want your life to be like? There’s the “you’ll regret it if you don’t try” thing, but this is bigger than that. Do you want to play the odds, assume you won’t succeed, and sit on the sofa watching cat videos your whole life?

I was a professional musician, and the bands I was in really gave everything we had to make the big time. Short story: we didn’t make it.

I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

I think quitting on a dream can be a very positive thing (if you do it for the right reasons, of course). As I describe in one of my comments on Kristan’s post, Henry James and George Bernard Shaw had dreams of becoming, respectively, a playwright and a novelist, and English literature is a whole lot richer because they gave up on those dreams and became, respectively, a novelist and a playwright.

And I wouldn’t have half as much fun writing these last couple of decades if I was still trying to be a musician at the same time.

Or, to take it away from the realm of art and sports, getting out of a bad marriage can be a very positive change in a person’s life, but it does inevitably involve giving up on a dream.

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6 Responses to sometimes you do have to fold ’em

  1. I really like this, it’s hard for people to realise that these stories make the news as they are newsworthy. It’s like supermodels are celebrated as they are an extreme example, not the norm, not something us mortal folk can hope to aspire.
    Persevere, yes, try your best, yes. But write because you can’t imagine doing anything else, because the stories keep on coming and just won’t stop

  2. Maggie says:

    It is good to accept defeat sometimes, but the hard part is knowing when to quit. Sometimes it’s good to make sure you’ve exhausted all of your options.

    • I agree. When I stopped playing music, I tried to consider all the factors: the music (which was stagnant), the business side (we’d had a really good break — which wasn’t likely to be repeated — and then some very bad luck), and the personal (it wasn’t fun anymore). It was time, and I think the biggest indication that I was right was that I’ve never second-guessed the decision.

  3. SB Roberts says:

    It took me time to come to terms with this. I certainly haven’t given up on my dreams (because I’m definitely a dreamer), but I also understand now that things might not happen the way I imagined. Yeah, I’ll get published one way or another. (We live in an era filled with possibilities.) Will I have the huge following that I used to fantasize about when I was sixteen? Maybe not, but that’s not why I started writing in the first place. It’s a hobby first, and that’s what I always want it to be.

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