I woke up twice in the middle of the night with this song on endless repeat in my head. Well, really just the “Too Legit/Too Legit to Quit – (keyboard hit twice)” part, over and over. And when I finally decided to get up FOR REALZ, there it was again, egging me on like a hip-hop mantra. It was as if MC Hammer had been standing beside my bed the entire night, waiting for me to rouse so he could offer his wisdom, be my personal inspirational speaker, my own Anthony Robbins (I can’t wait for the Tony Robbins: I am Not Your Guru documentary to air on Netflix later this month!).
It all leads me to wonder if somehow Mr. Hammer knew about my other mantra, the one I created as a joke at work (though like most jokes, housing a high dose of truth in its bosom): I like to quit before I’ve tried everything. It was a reaction to all the annoying inspirational quotes I’ve seen my whole life like: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Yes, I tend toward impatience, especially when I have my day planned out and one of the items on my list (usually a work-related item) is taking longer than it should, but I like to think of this as ambition. I’ve got a lot on my plate and in order to stay on schedule, outside elements, like my boss requesting a last second task or Facebook beeping because I received a new response to my dancing cat post, can’t interrupt the flow and throw everything out of whack and WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT! I’M NOT TALKING LOUD!
But what really gets my goat (must look up derivation of that phrase), is when something technical is not working as it should, as I pride myself on my electronic handiness on the job. I am good (usually) at figuring out why a piece of software my coworker is using is acting buggy or why the sound is suddenly not coming through someone’s speaker like it should. Yet for some reason, when it’s my own computer I am less open to patient experimentation. I curse (goddammit being a favorite), I verbally list all the things I will now have to cancel should this take more than 5 more minutes (I’m gonna miss my noontime yoga class!…No lunch for me!… No, don’t pick me up a sandwich from Whole Foods, I have a bag of sunflower seeds somewhere…). And then when the 25 year old editor at the desk next to mine comes to check if I’m alright, asks me if I’ve tried such and such technique for solving said problem and I realize, no, I haven’t tried that, and 10 seconds later everything is working again, it leads to the creation of my now infamous quote “I like to quit before I’ve tried everything,” as a response to the (snarky) question “why hadn’t I thought to try” said successful method.
“Oh my God, can I write that down? That is SO YOU!” And she rushes off to find construction paper and a nice pen.
And then, ten minutes later, on the wall of my edit room, in perfect thick black sharpie handwriting, my quote is displayed for all to see and admire.
I can’t help but feel simultaneously proud and embarrassed (though mostly proud) at this anti-motivational quote, this quote that is the opposite of everything Tony Robbins would ever say. I don’t worry about strangers reading my quote and not understanding the context. I’m not some mainstream workplace philosopher. I am now part of a rich pantheon of famous thinkers and activists, people who have said things that are now written on walls and chalkboards and bumper stickers across America. Martin Luther King, Audre Lorde, Mark Twain, Gandhi, MC Hammer, and now, Steve Goldberg.