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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Kolumn: Destigmatizing giving up halfway


On my computer, there is a folder in which I put my writing pieces. Simply judging by the number of Word documents that exist in that folder, I appear to be a writer who is welling up with ideas. But in fact, one hand is enough to count the finished ones. I gave up on all the others halfway. 

The same applies to a surprisingly wide range of activities, from significant life choices to trivial decisions. I gave up learning piano after a year of paid lessons (the piano is still in my house!); I stopped studying Italian; I’ve dumped my miserable-looking cake batter — the list can go on.

My point is, giving up halfway is a perfectly normal phenomenon that we encounter frequently, and there is no shame in either committing or admitting to this behavior.

In fact, people who give up halfway are reasonable risk-takers and bold dreamers. The premise that they have something to give up on shows the fact that they are willing to look out and start up new things. Even if they don’t reach the destination, the process is what matters: The time and effort they put into the first half of the endeavor are rewarding enough. Moreover, in the case of initiating new activities, such an adventurous attitude is better than a cautious, consequentialist one — worrying about the ultimate outcome will only hold you back from wherever you want to go and whatever you can achieve. 

Furthermore, people who give up halfway sometimes exhibit more autonomy in their decision making and have a more comprehensive vision of their lives. For example, I’ve heard multiple times from my friends and family about what a physical and psychological struggle it was to be forced to practice a given activity for eight hours a day as a child, and not use that skill at all after they grew up. They unsurprisingly regret that they didn’t give up earlier so that they could put that time towards something they really liked, but are now too busy to pursue a new activity with full commitment. 

Besides, how different is giving up halfway from “changing one’s mind” anyway? If we normalize the latter, we should also normalize giving up halfway, and stop placing a stigma on this behavior. 

Lastly, there is always leeway in giving up halfway. We can always pick things up from where we stopped. For me, recently, I have indeed resumed writing one of the documents I had left to gather dust in 2017. Amazed, I found myself quickly adapting to my 15-year-old mindset and writing style. What’s better, I could amend it with a much more mature mind and skillset.

Don’t get me wrong in thinking that I encourage irresponsible whims about beginning anything just because we can always give up halfway. All I wish is to affirm this halfway effort and mitigate its disparagement.