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At the beginning of this year, we launched Sheet the series “I give up”. The idea came about after an unpretentious chat about a text that discussed mediocrity, or rather, how being an “average” person seems to have become something almost unacceptable. We all want to be the best, the greatest.
And, in that sense, giving up has also become almost synonymous with failure. But it will be? We question. It couldn’t be just that.
Then, the idea of a series about giving up emerged, which would address the topic in different aspects of life. Work, romance, motherhood, addiction, even death. The project, coordinated by reporter Bárbara Blum, begins with an interview she conducted with psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, author of “On Giving Up”, in which he points out the idea of never giving up as something ” fascist”.
In an ideal fit for the opening of the series, Phillips shows that clinging to persistence can do more harm than good.
“We tend to think of giving up, in its simplest form, as a lack of courage, as a shameful or inappropriate orientation toward what is frightening and dishonorable. This is to say, we tend to value and even idealize the idea of finishing things rather than abandon them”, he writes in the work, which should arrive in Brazil in July, from the publisher Ubu.
The series also deals with the taboo of dropping out of college and how giving up your dream job can be a fresh start. Remember the remarkable story of gymnast Simone Biles, who at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, gave up participating in most of the events for which she was a favorite in the name of her mental health.
I remember having mixed feelings at the time. First, I confess, my competitive side thought it was really stupid. How did the favorite have the courage to give up like that, at a time when she could have a big coronation? On the other hand, I had a deep admiration. It was a pandemic, I worked as a health reporter and my mind was in pieces.
I couldn’t give up any of the thousand activities I did every day for the sake of my well-being. And it was nothing close to winning an Olympic medal.
In 2023, two years after Biles left the Olympics aside and “protagonized the most impactful withdrawal ever seen in sport”, as the author of the report Daniel E. de Castro said, she returned to competing and won five medals at the World Championships. At that moment, there were many comments saying how prioritizing mental health was not synonymous with defeat.
But what if the gymnast had failed, would we applaud her withdrawal in the same way? This was the tone of the question from Anelise Chen, author of “Esforços Olímpicos”, a book that reflects on failure and provides real examples of athletes who gave up.
“I wonder how history would change if she gave up and never came back to gymnastics. Or if she came back but couldn’t reach her previous level. Would we celebrate the same way? I think we just stayed interested because she was able to come back and be even better than she was. before,” he said.
The story takes me back to psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. He wants his readers to ask themselves the reasons why we never give up.
“It’s difficult to think about giving up. We are forced to endure suffering, but this path and the path of giving up must both be on the table.”
To read in Folha
Still on the topic of mental health, I recommend reading the interview with Sônia Barros, director of the Department of Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs at the Ministry of Health. She says that the epidemic of anxiety and depression will only be alleviated through socioeconomic improvement.
Changing the subject… Reporter Stéfanie Rigamonti talks about how motherhood is an issue for women who aspire to leadership positions. Those who have children talk about how difficult it is to balance life and career in environments that require a lot of time and dedication.
It’s worth reading the text by Vera Iaconelli, columnist for Sheet. She questions why society makes so much judgment about female beauty. “Everything emerges from the conviction that women are not entirely their own masters and must be available to society to satisfy or reproduce them.”
I also want to recommend
To listen, the episode of Café da Manhã that aired on January 19th and deals with the theme of this edition. In it, Magê Flores and Gabriela Mayer talk to reporter Bárbara Blum about the series I give up.