Want to Quit Something? Quit Complaining

Pittsburgh high school senior, Suzy Weiss, is bitter — BITTER! — at America's Ivy League schools because she didn't get admitted to her dream college. So she ranted at all colleges in the country in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece.

"For years," she wrote, "we were lied to. Colleges tell you, 'Just be yourself.' That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms."

So now Weiss, who was "herself" by not participating in any extracurricular activities, not organizing any charitable events, and not doing any sports, is blaming everyone else but herself for not being the kind of person an Ivy League school wants in their student body.

"I've never sat down at a piano, never plucked a violin. Karate lasted about a week and the swim team didn't last past the first lap," she wrote. "I should have done what I knew was best — go to Africa, scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life."

That's quitter talk: I should've. I never. I didn't. I quit after a week. I quit during the first lap.

If that's "being yourself," it's no wonder the schools didn't want her. Herself is a quitter. If you can't manage karate class for a year, and can't even swim one lap on the swim team, just how quickly are you going to fold on the first day of classes? Why go to all the trouble of bringing you into a situation that's actually important, when you can't even stick around for the little things?

It's the way you act toward the little things, in the little situations, that tell people how you're going to react when it's important.

If Weiss wants to know why her schools didn't want her, she only has to look as far as her newspaper editorial: I never, I quit, I should've.

How about "I never should've quit?"

No one likes a quitter. I'm fine with losers, I just can't stand quitters. They're sad, depressing, and never have the ability to stay with anything long enough to see if they like it. And you can't count on them to be there when you need them.

I don't mean people who quit something after trying something for years and years, and finally give up because all the fight's gone out of them. I mean the people who try something for five minutes, whine "this is too hard," and then go home.

At least with a loser, they're out there trying. I can respect a loser. I can get behind their efforts. Even the people who lose and lose and lose, year after year after year — looking at YOU, Chicago Cubs! — get respect from those of us who appreciate their determination. When the Indianapolis Colts were 3–13 in 1998, Peyton Manning's first year, they didn't quit. They fought and played in every game.

"Well, at least we were ourselves," was not their rallying cry. They didn't blame the coaches for not making them lift weights. They didn't whine that "wind sprints didn't last past the first 10 yards." They worked hard at their jobs, even when they weren't very good. And the following year, they were 13–3.

In the 2012 Olympics, U.S. BMX racer Alise Post flew over her handlebars during a race, and planted her face into one of the small hills. Dazed, she tried to stagger across the finish line, fighting off the two Olympic officials who tried to help her off the track, until one of them put his arm around her waist, and walked her across the finish line. That's not quitting. That's gutting it out to the bitter end.

When someone like Suzy Weiss is given all the opportunities in the world — well-to-do parents, a good high school, plenty of extracurricular activities — and squanders it all to "be herself," she doesn't have a right to be bitter at the universities who rejected her. She needs to look in the mirror at the one person who is responsible for her complete and utter failure, the one person who kept her from pursuing her dream, the one person who couldn't even stick out karate classes for a single week.

Instead, Weiss topped off her rant with this little gem, "To those of you disgusted by this, shocked that I take for granted the wonderful gifts I have been afforded, I say shhhh—'The Real Housewives' is on."

A TV show where a bunch of whiny do-nothings who have opportunities handed to them by someone else and then complain about how hard life is?

Sounds about right.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and my other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.


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