I was recently asked by a friend to think of five internal qualities I like about myself.

After a few minutes of deep thought, I concluded that my taste in music isn’t so bad.

I recruited my dad to name a thing or two that’s good about me, to which he answered that I’m not a quitter.

I suppose this is true, for the most part.

There’s a danger (although most don’t realize this) in not knowing when to quit, and knowing when you should.

Fortunately, I usually know the difference, and am in tune with myself enough to know how to get out of those situations. Another good quality about me.

This morning I was struck by a quote I read, but have no name to give credit for (I tried Googling it, so whoever owns this phrase, please don’t sue me): “There is a dignity in defeat that cannot be found in a victory.”

So, so true. You can win with humility, but there won’t be the same sort of grace there is in realizing “Yes, this is a loss, but I am not defined by it.”

It’s not an easy truth to believe, however, because everybody loves a good underdog-to-top-dog story, including me. It’s why I’ll go back and reread some of my top hero and heroines’ sucky-to-success stories when I’m looking for that much-needed boost of  motivation.

J.K. Rowling—love that woman. Even though I get annoyed that she keeps throwing curveballs in the Harry Potter plots NINE YEARS after the series ended.

Second to the Bible, the HP series is the world’s top bestseller. But before Harry Potter was born, Rowling was a single mother, unemployed, impoverished, suicidal and feeling quite alone in the world. But she kept chugging through the first draft of “The Philosopher’s Stone” on an old-school typewriter and was rejected by multiple different publishing houses. It wasn’t until the daughter of the final publisher took a look at Rowling’s book and demanded another one to quench her reader-thirst. Six novels, eight films, two theme parks later, and the rest is obviously history.

It’s always a good story–proving them wrong, coming out on top, looking at your nemeses in the eyes and saying “I did everything you said I couldn’t.” It’s the reason why we like to get amped up to “Eye of the Tiger” as we seek out better jobs, boyfriends, or a gym membership.

But the difference between that real, genuine motivation versus “feauxtivation” is realizing that you can’t always win. The well-intentioned, go-getter advice to “Make today your b—h!” and do something that makes you happy is not always helpful, especially if you don’t even have the energy to get up, or the energy to even WANT to get up, at the 90% risk of falling down again.

Not quitting is good. But sometimes quitting is the right thing to do, even if it doesn’t feel like it. There’s a chance it’s the universe telling you to make a change, or to focus your energy elsewhere.

For a girl I knew, her failures were pointing her to change her major, even though it may have seemed like the coward’s way out. After failing a number of her science classes—prerequisites for getting into her dream med school—she took it as a sign that maybe, just maybe, she should take her studies in a different direction. Which is probably for the best—I wouldn’t want to be on the operating table of a doctor who barely passed the test for a medical license.

For another, it was trying to make a relationship work that was simply doomed to fail. More than just long distance, if the person you fell in love with changes entirely (for the worse), it’s hard to keep those same feelings you once had because they’re not the same person anymore.

For me, it’s usually trying to impress people whose opinions I know deep down will never be relevant anyway. As I’ve become in better tune with certain vibes I get from others (as well as the vibes I give off), I’ve learned to gauge when a certain situation just simply isn’t in my best interest.

I’ve learned that it’s best to walk away when: a) I can sense them hearing, but not listening to me, b) I can more easily find reasons to leave than to stay, and c)realizing deep down that if I threw away my phone, it wouldn’t mark their world much differently.

Winners never quit and quitters never win, so the saying goes. But I have remind myself, what is my objective in trying over and over again at something that seems to be a rigged game? If the answer is trying to impress or prove I’m worth something to someone else, I’ve already lost.


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