Monday, March 21, 2022

Throwing In The Towel (MY Eng #44)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees', 'the elephant in the room', 'practising what you preach', blowing hot and cold', 'no smoke without fire', 'one swallow does not make a summer', 'apples and oranges', 'cut to the chase', 'leave no stone unturned', 'that's the way the cookie crumbles', 'can't have your cake and eat it too', 'old is gold', 'putting the cart before the horse', 'mountain out of a molehill', 'pot calling the kettle black', 'bite the bullet', 'go the extra mile', 'silence is golden', 'the devil is in the details', 'sink or swim', 'once bitten twice shy', 'don't count your chickens before they hatch', 'don't put all your eggs into one basket', 'chicken and egg', 'walking on eggshells', 'flogging a dead horse', 'better late than never', 'storm in a teacup', 'between a rock and a hard place', 'darkest before dawn', 'empty vessels make the most noise', 'birds of a feather flock together', 'separate the wheat from the chaff', 'let sleeping dogs lies', 'open a can of worms', 'light at the end of the tunnel', 'trial and error', 'look before you leap', 'lightning in a bottle', 'on the same page', 'don't judge a book its cover', 'reinvent the wheel' and 'shifting gears'.

Never give up, never surrender!

Winners never quit, quitters never win!

If you don't succeed, try and try again!

That's the mantra typically drilled into our heads, from childhood to adulthood. Work hard. Stay strong. Be resilient. Grow a spine. Don't wave the white flag at the first sign of trouble. And so on.

Yes, success takes time. Don't expect to get instant results from every good performance at school or work. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

* * *

Yet, there are times when enough is enough. We've tried and tried again, yet success still eludes us. When nothing more that can be done to make things better, there's no shame in throwing in the towel

Yes, painful as it is, we have to be prepared to admit defeat. Swallow your pride. Don't hold back your tears. Life doesn't go our way all the time.

I'm not adverse to calling it quits myself. In fact, my problem is perhaps being too stubborn. Clinging on to false hopes for far too long. Not cutting losses sooner. As the saying goes (commonly attributed to Albert Einstein): "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result".

Still, I don't think that the root cause is over-estimating my own abilities. I'm well aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Whenever I fall short of a lofty target, I often regret not doing things different or trying harder.

No, my fault lies instead in being too trusting on people. Expecting people to make good on their word. Or to warn me if I'm on the wrong track. Gullible? Naive? That's me.

* * *

Why do we feel so strongly against accepting failure. Ego. Ignorance is bliss. We can't face the cold hard truth that we're not worth as much as we think are.

Time to grow up, people (and myself)! Don't be too sure about yourself. Don't put too much faith on the goodwill of others.

Deep inside, we all know when it's time to throw the towel. All it takes - which we often sorely lack - is the courage to let it go...

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