My Daughter is taking her college deferment rather well. When I remarked on this she simply said “Well- when your classmates, even the ones with better scores and averages than me, all get deferred, it makes it easy.” She smiled and continued “Plus- it’s only strike two.  I get one more swing.’

When my daughter began T-ball at four, her first competitive activity, I told her that first day: “Never look at the last pitch.  Go down swinging.”

For thirteen years she has waited to hear the fat lady sing- and she has not sung yet… She has sent out a plethora of college applications to other schools. And she has approached teachers and mentors to write additional recommendation letters to add to her deferred application.  She is working on a list of accomplishments she’s had since her original application went out on November first. Never say die.

Perseverence.  Persistence. Those are my daughters best qualities. She is adept at picking herself up and dusting herself off and getting on with it.

But this particular situation has a finite end.  On March 29, if this school rejects her, she will, hopefully, have a few other schools to consider.  She will cease trying to get into this school. She will move on. She will no longer try.

So here’s my question.  We all agree that attitude and perseverance will get you far in life.


Is there a time when you should give up?

Is there a point where you have to face reality and move on?

Let’s think about relationships: How long do you continue in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling? If you’ve tried counseling and read books and done what you can to get to a better relationship place, yet it still isn’t working, when do you decide to give up?

What if you’re in a job where you know you’ve reached your limit? The promotion just isn’t going to happen.  The pay raise is not going to materialize. When do you pull the plug and start job hunting?

The HGTV show “Love it of List It” is based on one person wanting to stay in their present house and their partner wanting to move. After renovations are completed the couple decides whether or not they should move- what makes them decide if they can weather it out in the old place, or move into more appropriate digs?

When is it OK to give up?



56 thoughts on “To Keep Going or Not to Keep Going: What is the answer?

  1. I think the answer may be different depending upon what you are deciding to give up, as in some things seem less important than others… thus easier to move away from? So for the big two in your question:
    Relationships-when you feel hopeless, alone, disrespected, consumed by fear/hate/sadness/anger…, when you got to bed every night and wake every morning wishing you were anywhere else…
    Jobs-feeling morally or ethically compromised, unseen or disrespected, unheard, taken advantage of…

    Liked by 6 people

      1. I think we may have a finite limit to what we can give of ourselves in specific situations. Maybe it’s knowing ourselves well enough to say clearly and confidently “I’ve reached my limit!”

        Liked by 2 people

  2. LA, this is a conversation where this endless positivity irks me. People who preach never to give up, never accept no as a finite answer, always remain positive are sometimes in denial with reality, no? Not all things in life can be adjusted to suit us. Some things are beyond our control (like your girl, she’s done more than what is possible to get in to that school but she can’t control them, which is why she has backup plans).

    I simply don’t buy into that. I believe here are times when you have to accept that something isn’t going to happen. This coach won’t recruit you, that school won’t accept you, a certain recipe will not turn out no matter how many times you tried it…a boy/girl will not return the love you crave, the house, no matter how many limits it presents or how many expensive renovations it has undergone, will never satisfy one of the owners…

    Sometimes adapting by accepting, then maybe changing the answer or your position, is the way to go.

    For example: I’m still living in this house. It’s better post reno, but all other options that I want are not possible right now. And the neighborhood has more value to me than the house…

    So I have to adapt.

    Good luck with the endlessness of the college drama. 😉😊

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thank you! But I completely agree with everything you wrote. Sometimes you have to accept the no. Sometimes things are not going to happen the way you want them to, and you have to realize that that is ok. Sometimes what you want is just not possible. We have to look reality straight on sometimes!

      Liked by 5 people

  3. I think when things get toxic it’s time to move on, relationships, work, goals. When you’ve tried and nothing changes. Our sons didn’t get into their reach college and moved on because there are so many great schools out there. If they weren’t wanted, they decided the college didn’t deserve them!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Ugh..just got a flash-back. Depending on the stats for that specific college, deferment is basically a “no.” It’s not about giving up on plan’s about not letting a weak plan A distract you from pursuing a strong and viable plan B. College is all business..that application process is a meat grinder..I loathed it all 4 times..🙄

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s become such an ugly game. My daughter didn’t win a pulitzer of a gold medal, and she didn’t cure cancer, so she was pretty sure she wasn’t getting into her highly selective first choice school, but you still have to tell them you love them best. I’m glad I only have one

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The big lie the kids are peddled is that if they work hard in HS and meet the ‘requirements’ they have a shot. The truth is there is SO much more at play- most of which they cannot control. Elite colleges see themselves as “playing field levelers”..loosely translated, if your smart kid grew up in a field, she has a shot. If your smart kid built shelters for those who live in a field, she may, or may not, have a shot. If your smart kid is a sports star playing on a field that alone MAY possibly work.. Golden ticket= smart, super-star athlete lives in a shelter she built for her family on the same field her team plays on..👍

        Liked by 2 people

      2. To be fair, my daughters school college counselor actually told them flat out in ninth grade that most of of them weren’t getting ivy, or almost ivy. But it’s that other issue…the uneven playing field. My kid goes to a nyc high school, aka breeding ground for kids applying to top 20 schools. She has to stand out amongst all the other nyc kids…and these kids have some pretty stellar resumes. I just don’t like this early decision game that’s being played now, asin my daughters second and third choice schools take so many kids Ed there are almost no spots left for regular. She had to think long and hard about her school choice and order and what to ea (and she went with an ea restrictive school so she was limited to being able to only apply to one state school in addition) just ridiculous

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I know.. 😕my youngest daughter applied early admission and it freaked me out. My son (an athlete) was counseled (by the ivy college coach) to apply early, chose not to because he wanted to see if he could gain admission to some of the others and subsequently didn’t get into ANY of the ivies he applied to. He was ticked, but let me reassure you it all worked out. He played sports all four years at a super school, got a great education..made friends..went on to grad school..met his practicing in the field he always wanted to…etc, etc.. But rest assured, that whole episode STILL irks him AND my husband on the RARE occasion we discuss it. We agree we were playing a game without the benefit of directions or a full hand of other kids hit the other, more common, wall- great personal resumes but no great personal “stories..” ugh…just remembering it all..I’m going to have to go now and pour some liquor into my coffee..HAHA

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I’m surprised I’m not a raging alcoholic at this point. The essays….the worst part of that is that a lot of the essay is the attitude of the person reading it. My daughter went “light”. She knows that she didn’t grow up with real hardship, so to try to spin on something like that would be disingenuous, but who knows how that will be received. It was a gamble, but she felt that she’s a normal high school student who works really hard, and she should showcase that. A big game. And I know it will all work out, but it’s so stressful when your amidst it

        Liked by 2 people

      5. When applying to grad school (no, the craziness doesn’t end with undergrad..)my one daughter had to answer the prompt: How will admitting you add to the diversity of our institution?” My blonde, freckle-face, American born girl basically wrote that the end goal should be diversity of thought and that she felt she could certainly add to that..Yeah, no-they didn’t like that.. She was rejected. Again, she was still able to realize her career goals, just not on the exact track she’d envisioned. Believe it or not, the best (most unique) essay option was given by William & was something like writing about a place that had special meaning. I felt it was an opportunity for applicants to highlight their writing skills..not exaggerate some story about working in soup kitchens..surely those admission folks get tired reading those..if they actually even read them..🙄

        Liked by 2 people

      6. My daughters college counselor gave them rules on what not to write about…the 4 D’S were the big ones…divorce, dating, death and depression. Then it was don’t talk about your new best friend Jose who you met when you did volunteer work in Central America. Most of the questions have centered around favorite extracurricular activity. Couple times about when she had to collaborate, she did have to do one about her fave place, and one of them was what kind of roommate will you be which she liked

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Oh gosh..the flash-backs! Must.grab.brown.paper.bag..and breathe, breathe..😵Makes me think about a family member of ours..single-very successful mom with two, very smart daughters..she literally rescued one of her daughter’s friends from drug addicted parents. The friend has lived with them for several years. Both her daughter, and her friend are HS seniors. The friend applied early and got a full ride at Wellesley.. now everyone is waiting to see how the daughter will make out..she was certainly part of her friend’s application story, but the story isn’t “hers” if you know what I about a tricky, potentially uncomfortable situation..😬paper.bag.must.breathe..🥴

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Absolutely depends on the person and the situation. For me, pain is generally the greatest motivator…when it hurts enough, I change it. I would not recommend this method & I’m sure there is a better way, but this has been an observation I’ve made in my own life many times.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think I tend not to think of such things as giving up and more of as shifting focus, or reevaluating cost vs benefit or the goals both long and short term. It’s the whole when a door closes, look for a window. Giving up when a door closes would be not look for a window but get used to living in this room for good. But even then I guess that wouldn’t necessarily be giving up, but again shifting goals and focus. For me my process (still on going) of accepting life with disability has been a lot of learning to shift focus and let go of a life I thought I wanted or was going to have to instead find ways the current reality is even better. The only thing I consistently work to give up is banging my head into metaphoric brick walls, taking a step back to search for a window is much more productive.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. When I was your daughter’s age, I didn’t get into a private Catholic university my father wanted me to attend. I was told I would be part of a defer list. Instead a public university offered me a full academic scholarship, so I took it. We take what is best for us sometimes and sometimes this works well.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I’ve been, once again, reading the philosopher John Gray, so my bottom line to all things human is regrettably…life is but one deferment after another. Better options, maybe. Progress possible. But no evolutionary guarantee . It’s not about giving up. It’s about being wise enough to give in to our shared and ever imperfect human condition. Life may not be fair, but that doesn’t make it futile.

    Your daughter will navigate and course correct this.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ahh…very pragmatic. And so true, life isn’t fair, no matter how hard people try to make it so. We have to gauge our reactions, and figure out how to move forward again

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Thinking this over again as I sort through some papers enjoying time at home, there are some situations where you cannot win and should know when to give up. In retrospect, once I had a boss at a school who didn’t like the way I handled one student in the classroom. I twisted inside out trying to modulate and change but I found out later, as a new teacher…she wanted one of her students from University in my job. Nothing was going to work out for me even staying until 6 to make my classroom perfect. I like what r. Douglas states about being wise enough. Often there are forces beyond our repair or scope to the situation of which we are not privy to the politics, so maybe it is best to go with the flow.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Giving up on a dream college and walking away from a toxic job or relationship are very different scenarios.
    Regarding college, at this point your daughter is doing exactly what she should, not giving up but focusing on good Plan B options which often end up being for the best in hindsight. My daughter was deferred from her dream school and the following day was accepted to an excellent state school so she pulled her application from the $$$$ private school. At $25,000 less per year, she was already ahead of the game, and received an excellent education with paid internships that almost covered her expenses the last 2 years.
    Giving up on a toxic job or relationship is something people should do and plan for if at all possible.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I see what you mean, but I think there are people who think of giving up as failure. While I agree that anyone who has applied to a college where they were deferred is probably one of those never say die sort of people (cause if you were dereffed you were probably reaching for a dream),but I do think there are people who will stay in situations way past there due date so as not to be seen as a quitter. I think I stayed in my first marriage way longer than I should have because I had my mother’s voice inside my head, telling me I gave up on things too easily. I’m going to think about this though

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Is the failure giving up or not getting in to the 1st choice school? I think it’s only a failure if you say it’s this school or nothing. To my mind, that’s giving up.

        About when to leave a marriage or an awful job – in hindsight, I’m sure many people wish they had left sooner. But not worth beating yourself up over it.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Great comments!! The whole college application process has become a stressful quagmire. I agree that your daughter is doing exactly what she should be doing — remaining pragmatically hopeful while figuring out a great Plan B.

    My daughter had a similar situation with med school. She was wait listed from her dream school, so she made plans with her Plan B which was perfectly acceptable and where she always thought she would end up. Then, at the very, very last minute, the dream school called because they had a last minute opening. She had told herself that she would stay on their waiting list until she signed an apartment lease at Plan B and they called her the day before she was to sign the lease….

    Things will fall into place for your daughter because her mindset is exactly where it needs to be. Congrats to you for raising such a fierce young woman!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I believe it depends on the situation. Like the relationship question for example, there is a time to cut ties after giving your all and nothing changing. Giving up in this type of situation is much better than staying and being miserable.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Sometimes in life you must take a different path to get what you want. Do you know how many kids I know who got into their first choice schools and were miserable and transferred? More than I can count. Your daughter’s best bet is keeping an open mind. From what you’ve said, I’m sure she’ll have plenty of offers :).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One can hope….but it’s been a funky sort of year. 19 of the top twenty in her grade got deferred. As the valedictorian said…ok , I didn’t get in, so what. But all of us?

      Liked by 2 people

  14. This is a wonderful question! Thank you for asking. For me, it’s an inner intuitive direction. I live my life best I can being guided by Spirit (or loving, if you prefer). I keep going when I get clarity to do that, or if it’s not a green light to call it complete. I end something when I hear inside that it’s time to end – and sometimes I spend time to check out whether that’s truly on track for me, e.g., I lean into the decision, etc.

    Hope that’s clear! Again, I really appreciate this post. And, I truly acknowledge your daughter for her perseverance and resourcefulness. What amazing qualities!

    Blessings to you. Happy New Year to you and your family,

    Liked by 1 person

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