The Importance of Sucking At Life

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The most important lesson we can learn is how to cope with sucking at life.

loser rosette

Credit Image: Sarah-Rose on Flickr

No, I’m not on hallucinogenics and neither have I turned in my overachiever badge to slackers anonymous. I mean this wholeheartedly. Every single person has to learn how to cope with failure, not winning every game, not passing a test, getting passed over for a promotion, being lectured for not doing a great job at work, being dumped, and embracing that we are incapable of perfection. Failure, by its very existence, is as important to life as success—for without one, the other means nothing.

People who have never been allowed to fail or hit rock bottom are patently uninteresting and generally dickish people. These are the people who belligerently think they have a right to your time, body, money, or grades. They are the ones who are told “No,” and think that it’s merely opening negotiations. There’s generally a lot of moaning that they deserve better. Better than whom? Everyone else?

People who have never been allowed to fail are patently uninteresting and generally dickish people.

And from time to time, I’ve been this person, and if your ego is even half the size as mine or you’re Type-A as well, you probably have, too. I was the kid who wanted to shred participation ribbons to pieces because they didn’t count if everyone got one. I’m the student whose one semester not on the Dean’s List haunts me to this day. If I didn’t get something that I thought I deserved—a spot in a top college, a quick hire after graduation, the life I thought I wanted—it was so easy to blame someone else. That teacher who hated me, an illness that took me out of class, or the recession were all far more at fault than I ever could be. I was a good person who made good grades and followed the right steps to get ahead, and therefore the fact that sometimes shit happens and it doesn’t work out, or even more improbable that perhaps I hadn’t done enough, couldn’t possibly be the reason.

That all changed when I fell flat on my ass three separate times. Like rock bottom, my ass is now pancake-flat, and no one can get me out of this but myself. My senior year of college I became aware a month prior to graduation that I might not graduate because I had a "F" in Latin. Yes, the straight-A student who didn’t bother to go to class and thought she could call that shit in was going to fail a 202-level class in a language she took all through high school. I remember walking through campus after getting that bomb dropped on me and thinking,

“Sorry, Mom and Dad, you’re going to have to pay for an extra semester. Cancel the parties, rescind the graduation announcements, and tell everyone that I HAVE BROUGHT SHAME AND DISHONOR UPON MY FAMILY.”

I cried, wailed, despaired. I blamed the stupid, horrible, rotten, no-good, unfair teacher. I begged and pleaded and hyperventilated to the professor begging for a chance to fix it. I definitely made up some cock-and-bull story to try and lie my way out of it. I was entirely unequipped to handle this level of suckage. Finally I shut up, went to class, and memorized twenty chapters of Hercules in Latin, and scraped a 90 that brought my grade to a passing D. Hello graduation, goodbye perfect GPA.

The second time was barely a few months after the Great Latin Debacle of 2008. Yeah, notice that date stamp? That’s when I graduated, with (mostly) good grades, some big laudes after my name, and absolutely no idea what to do with a degree in international relations and political philosophy. I’d learned for the sake of learning, surely that counted for something right? I just had to say, “Hey world, I’m here, feel free to hire me now,” right?

Yeah, all you new grads are laughing your ass off right now, aren’t you? Well, you should, because I was wrong. Dead wrong, actually, and had a year of temp jobs, house sitting and days on end of sending countless resumes that basically said, “I’m smart, OK, hire me.” I had my dad saying, “Getting a job just isn’t that hard. Why don’t you have one yet?” I knew my parents were wondering what they’d wasted thousands upon thousands of dollars on with my education, and everyone who’d toasted me for having such potential in May were wondering when that was going to be put to use. It wasn’t until I let go of the fact that my prized bachelor’s degree should’ve gotten me a supreme job and realized I needed to shut up, take any job I could, and go back to school for a degree that could get me hired, that things finally started looking up. But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t still a receptionist for the first year and half of my career. Turns out no one is too good for admin work, no matter what your college career service says.

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