Giving Up, or Giving In

I have a friend who has been working on a labor of love for a long time now, like multiple years long, like too long probably. He wants it to be done right, no mistakes. Last weekend though he was surrounded by people, many smart people, telling him that no matter how good his work is it won’t work out for him. There is a systemic problem standing in his way. If he gave up, no one would think bad of him. That is the rub though, giving up sounds like a failure, like you just didn’t try hard enough. Even though many of us do it everyday. It could be as small as watching Law & Order reruns, because the remote is on top of the TV, and you just sat down with a sandwich. While that is a small example, these sorts of problems present them selves in more important ways as well. A better example I think would be coffee. I think that best coffee is at Blue Bottle. The closest Blue Bottle to me, at work, is like 30 minute walk at best. Sure, it’s the best coffee and I shouldn’t settle for anything less than awesome, right, but I choose not to go their because it’s a huge imposition on myself, and would take away from my ability to do my job. All this, and it would just be a huge pain in the ass. So, I go to Starbucks, or make my own. One one hand, someone could say that I was giving up on awesome coffee, but I think that I was just giving in to reality of the situation. I have had my own interesting relation ship with giving up. From a young age I have always been a procrastinator. Few things I started got done. Many, including my own parents, interpreted this as being lazy. While arguing once my father convinced me that I was lazy. At the time I thought he was right, and he’s not a bad guy for making me think that. His frustration was cause by a personal schism. He single handedly pulled his two siblings, and him self into adulthood, as well as into the middle class. Then worked his way into owning a company, and successfully raised two kids in a middle class lifestyle. This alternatingly makes him happy, and sad. At the time he convinced me I was lazy. I am sure he was wondering how the hell, with all the help I had, I couldn’t keep a B average, or remember to pay parking tickets, or even just help around the house. All he saw was a person unfit to take care of himself. He wasn’t wrong, but he wasn’t right either. I still to this day think there were some serious structural problems in my way. Many were caused by inherent learning differences, and mixed with an entirely obnoxious ability to believe I am good at anything. To me these problems are as concrete as laws. That can’t be changed. The only thing I have ever learned to do is work with them, and lean hard on what I do know how to do. Structural difficulties have followed my throughout my life. One was college, when I left I was less than 5 classes from graduating. If anyone is reading this at all, at least one person will gasp, and say but that’s nothing. To them 5 classes is nothing, to me it’s tantamount to making a non-NASA backed rocket ship capable of taking up one human to orbit. Yes, it’s possible, but it’s going to take me a long, long time, and I am not sure if at the end of it I want to be making a rocket ship any more. It was just time for me to leave. I am happy with what I learned. I got a college education even if I don’t have a piece of paper to tell me I do. I am fucking proud of what I did, any other time in history I would have been sidelined already. I would have been tracked early on in my life to be car mechanic, which isn’t to say that being a car mechanic is bad, but I don’t want to be car mechanic. I had two parents that fought with the tenacity usually reserved for a prize fighter, when they couldn’t fight for me they oiled the wheels a little. They got me so close, but their engine was running out of gas, and so was my patients. At some point, you need to strike out on your own. Luckily or not, Yahoo! was there waiting. I had what it took to be at a place like Yahoo, and I had what it took to be a good software engineer, those skills are what will keep my employed. What makes me valuable, I think, it is my ability to solve problems. Any problem solving I was taught in school usually was learning how to get around some structural object, like learning how to talk my way into full classes. Still to this day I sometimes forget to look out for structural problems. Teachers always told I was a bad writer. I am still not sure if I disagree with them, but no one ever took the time to explain that just because you are bad at writing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write. I might have written more, but it was beat into me that I as bad. Sometime after I left college, and before I really started trying to join a startup, I started writing more. It started small, on twitter, but it grew over time into blog posts. Then I started writing tutorials, and learning about mobile web development. My eternal optimist started thinking big, and like far to many times I got myself into a situation where I didn’t have what it took to finish. I got myself into a book deal, and then wanted out. It’s not because I couldn’t do it. I had steadily produced a chapter every two weeks for 2 months or so, but it was like pulling teeth. I was getting that antsy feeling in my stomach. Oh shit who am I going to piss off now feeling. That, I shouldn’t have told all those people I was going to do it, feeling. The I would rather go sit in a parking lot, and look at the paint dry that do this, feeling. I wish my friend the best of luck, and I know how it feel’s to give up, but I don’t want to call it that any more. We should call it giving in, we are giving in to being better, to spending our time doing something useful, and fulfilling. We are giving in to not wasting opportunity. I was writing a book about a ton of stuff I knew kinda well, and some stuff I knew pretty well. I was writing a book about a lot of things that no one knew really well. I think that I would rather not present myself as person who knows something I don’t. Even if it means feeling sheepish for a while.