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When Giving Up is Against Your Best Interest

Frederick Douglass held the value that one's life without struggle produces no worthwhile growth. His value led to his belief that there is more respect and honor in the person who struggled from poverty into a position of economic stability than someone with all the comforts and resources at his disposal but advances very little in society. What is the difference? I believe Frederick Douglass wanted to change the paradigm in what merits a successful character.

A major area for consideration is the consequences to a person who stops his struggle early versus a person who perseveres despite setbacks. My early education, by the hand of fate as well as the happenstance of parenting, was on the value of perseverance.

There were a multitude of times in my life where a decision needed to be made in the instant that would determine whether I should continue or fold because of the circumstance in the way of my goal. In all cases, continuing was the best choice. Here is where my education was at its most valuable. I learned through successive approximations of positive results that perseverance was valuable in my life. High school football, for instance, taught me the value of hard work. It taught me that if I wanted to become good in the sport, I needed to work harder than everyone else. I studied those who were better than me, and trained in ways that mirrored those college and pro football players workouts. Before going to Notre Dame, I was told that I needed to work twice as hard than everyone else because I was half as prepared as most of the other students. It was true. Nevertheless, instead of doubling my efforts with one major, I chose to double major. I didn't see the value of investing thousands of dollars for the kind of education Notre Dame offers just to take it easy. The investment justified the suffering, and the suffering promoted exponential growth.

Here is where I might differ from others, and where my Catholic background probably influences my perspective. There are those who believe suffering lacks value. I, on the other hand, believe suffering is worthless if it is done absent of a very personal, fundamental value and goal. If you truly value something, such as education, then invest your effort in educating yourself after the classroom door closes. Push yourself, physically, spiritually, psychologically, or emotionally, and rest assured your brain will adapt. Your soul will adapt and expand. If you do, then not only will you grow into your true identity but also into a formidable character.

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