Photo by: Steve Pereira

As children, we are always told never to give up.

“Never give up on your dreams.”

“Never give up when things get hard.”

“Never give up until you reach your goals.”

Perseverance and endurance through tough times is encouraged and celebrated. We’ve had the message engrained in our minds that success isn’t achieved until we’ve suffered for it and if we give up too early, we have failed.

I’m here to tell you that it isn’t always the case.

Harder is not always better.

Sometimes knowing when to give up is the only thing standing between you and success.

For me, my goal in life was to affect people through my art. I wanted to invoke human emotion in others the way I experienced it. When I discovered my passion for Latin Ballroom dancing before I graduated college, it overtook every ounce of my being and I was certain that I was going to deliver my message to the world through this medium.

Well, after ten years of being consumed with being the best, pushing my mind and body to the max, a few cortisone shots later, and still feeling incomplete, I realized that maybe Latin Ballroom was not going to be IT. With encouragement and guidance from several mentors, I slowly stepped away from my dance tunnel vision.

I felt like I might possibly be “copping out” or “giving up” too soon, but there was a little nagging voice inside that told me I needed to do this. I had always wanted to write, so I took up a writing class with the extra time I had that would’ve been spent in the dance studio.

From there, that little nagging voice turned into a thunderous boom I heard loud and clear.

Writing took over my being and propelled me into my future just like Latin Ballroom had ten years ago. With writing, I discovered that I could get my message out to the public even faster. I didn’t have to wait on a performance, competition result, studio time or a partner. It was a different medium than I had expected to deliver my message, but it was so much more satisfying.

Had I not had the courage to step away from something that had defined me for my entire young adulthood, I would have never discovered how fulfilled I could become.

In our goal driven society, giving up has become associated with failure, something no one wants to be called.

There’s no doubt that reaching a goal and achieving a dream isn’t always pretty.

We will go through tough periods that will test our strength and dedication and it’s only in going through those times that real progress is made. But there are also times when we have tortured ourselves physically and emotionally for so long without a sense of fulfillment and enough is enough.

If something isn’t working and struggling has become a way of life, take a step back and realize that there may be other paths to that goal or that there are other goals that may lead to more happiness.

The journey and the process is where the value in life lies, and if you are too busy suffering and struggling to get somewhere, where is the joy in that?

Some might say I gave up on dance, but I like to think of it as I allowed a new path into my life– one that was natural, and flowing and I couldn’t be happier.

Have you ever had to change course in your life? If you find you’re on the wrong path, what’s one change you can make this week to become more fulfilled?