The art of losing

Losing sucks.
There’s a lot of it going around this time of year. High school teams are wrapping up their seasons and careers, while college basketball tournaments provide a buffet of entertaining ways for us to watch ballers lose.
Academic athletes are exercising their brains in front of judges and high school seniors are losing scholarships and spots in colleges because their footprint on earth so far isn’t as impressive as that of someone else. Who knows if that will end up being true in four years, but that’s how it goes.
Yep, losing sucks.
There are thousands of quotes and memes out there saying that winning isn’t everything, and losing isn’t everything, and that the only thing you learn from losing is how to lose, and someone who is a good loser is a loser.
That’s not to say the only way to win is to win. Winning can make you think more of yourself than you should. As if your uniform is a commodity you use to gain power and influence to the point you feel exempt from the rules of common decency.
Still, most of us would rather be tempted with that, than force fed defeat. So we try. We care about the things in which we are involved either out of a learned or innate (both?) desire to succeed.
There’s a good stress that makes you almost desperate because you don’t want to be the one who thinks about everything you could have done, once it’s too late to do anything about it.
You know that your lofty goal won’t happen by accident, but it’s hard. It’s stressful. There’s conflict. You want protagonists to be fire-tested on the flat screen while you stuff your face with popcorn, but when it’s you, it’s different. You know the more you risk, the more it hurts.
By risking less you can insulate yourself and accept losing, or devise excuses to prevent accountability. The refs were terrible. The judges were biased. If my teammates were better… Somehow you’re a victim. But an unavoidable detail is that your name is on everything you do, whether you want it to be or not.
You volunteered for the possibility of failure, as you should, because life is full of it.
You decided to spend afternoons training just for the opportunity to lose in front of a bunch of people.
You submitted yourself to the flames to discover if you’re a rock or a marshmallow.
It sounds sick, but that’s what it’s about.
It could be argued that the fear of rejection or failure is worse than failure itself, because fear causes inactivity. And if a character requires conflict to grow, removing that conflict stunts growth.
Everyone loses. It’s how passionate you are in preventing it, and how you handle it when it happens, that matters the most.

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