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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Column: Just quit already

That awkward moment when you know in your heart that you should just “quit while you’re ahead” but you can’t because the truth is that you’re not ahead. On the contrary, you’re in way too deep, and the real choice is between crashing and burning sooner rather than later. This is the predicament that Speaker Newt Gingrich finds himself in. Although it is rumored that he will quit the presidential race sometime this week, possibly today, the action is way overdue.

Gingrich did not have nearly the same amount of success as did Rick Santorum. Santorum came the closest to giving frontrunner Mitt Romney a run for his money, and even he dropped out of the presidential race on April 10. Last-place candidate Ron Paul is still in the race as well, but that sort of “unusual,” “out-of-the-box” behavior is expected out of the Congressman. There’s just something about Newt Gingrich that makes the nation cringe as he continues to drag out his inevitable loss, something that makes us want to say, “Just quit already.”

It’s hard not to feel a little empathetic towards the guy, because most of us have been in a similar situation before. Pride is a powerful thing and it makes us act irrationally, only to have us then rationalize our irrational behavior. It’s a slow, embarrassing torture while you’re in the thick of it, but it makes for great “that awkward moment” moments.

For example, that awkward moment when you raise your hand in lecture to ask a question but the professor either doesn’t see you or totally ignores you. That’s happened to me before, and there’s really no way to play it off. You lower your hand in slow motion and play with your hair or pick up your pencil or do anything else you can to occupy the hand that was heartlessly rejected. At least that’s what I do.

But I did once witness a guy who chose not to give up. I would like to give him the Most Ridiculously Determined Student on the Planet award. He raised his hand to ask a clarifying question and never got called on. And he never put his hand down. We had class with one of those professors who tends to only look at one side of the room while lecturing, and he had, unfortunately, sat on the wrong side of the lecture hall that day. It was hard to watch as he waved about, used his other hand to prop his arm when he got tired, switched arms, etc. I wished he had either called out to the professor or … just quit already.

Or how about that awkward moment when you’re in a serious argument with someone and you know you’re wrong, but you’ve already invested too much time and effort into the discussion so you keep arguing in defense of your wrongness. I’ll admit that I’m not much of a debater, but if I’m arguing with an arrogant individual or if I’m angry in the moment, I will keep going as long as I can, ignoring the fact that my statements are progressively getting more and more preposterous. That’s right, I will go around in circles, repeating myself, raising my tone, digressing as much as I can until the person I’m arguing with pities my apparent insanity and forces me to quit already by not engaging with me anymore.

We live in a culture where giving up is looked down upon, but there are some exceptions to the rule. Better yet, there are different types of giving up. If you’re quitting out of laziness, lack of self-confidence or an inability to confront challenges, then yes, you should persevere. If people are doubting you for no reason, in the words of the eloquent Mr. 50 Cent, “If they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up.”

But if you’re trying to salvage the unsalvageable, embarrassing yourself and wasting valuable resources because your pride is overriding your good sense, do the right thing and quit. Quit, not because you’re a quitter in the negative sense of the word, but because you are a kind-hearted person. Quit because you care.

Contact PAMELA NONGA NGUE at pamnonga@ucdavis.edu.

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