I’m a loser baby…so who has better advice?

me blowing bubbles


I’m a total loser.

I lose all the time and what’s worse, I don’t even care.  Just this morning I stopped to get chips and salsa for a conference. When I asked the man stocking shelves where I might find these items he directed me to the last aisle by the dairy section then yelled after me, “Wait! You’re that journalism girl from the class I took. I thought I recognized you!” I showed my ability for losing my mind by responding, “Dude I have not been a girl in thirty years.  What are you saying?” It was about 7:40 in the morning.

As a younger woman, before I was a loser, I would have never said that fearing some sort of consequence. Now I feel certain there will be no consequence for stating the obvious, nor should there be. How does a person refer to their fifty three year old instructor as  “that journalism girl” without expecting a swift slap of some sort? Yet in the past I would have been flattered just to be remembered for anything. But again, that’s before I became a loser who just doesn’t care.

I recently told a friend that despite the interest I received for a full time position which pays more than double my current income, I just couldn’t be bothered to get interested. She said, “How can you do that? This is a real job with some actual money and you’re barely scraping by, living like a college student in an apartment with a room mate and a crumbling old car. Who are you to turn down a decent offer?” I told her, “I’m a loser. I lost my ambition to work in a cubicle so I could pay for a house I don’t own and probably never will or to drive a car that might impress anyone but me. I’ve lost my ability to get excited about that. Don’t get me wrong. I’m worried about it. I’m worried I’ll regret what a loser I am and it’ll be too late. I’m worried I’m being arrogant about it all–thinking I can just do what I like and work on things that impress me-but right now I’m just so happy about the whole thing it’s hard to picture changing my mind.” She just shook her head. She had to get going. Her boyfriend was getting pissed.

I tried to have a boyfriend. I totally did. I made heroic efforts in fact. I posted notes to “The Universe” about the qualities I wanted, someone sweet and loving, literary if possible and dear to the bone. I found someone just like that and traveled across the globe to spend real, actual time in person. I totally loved him and still do but he’s not my boyfriend. We’re working on a literary project together. I lost the boyfriend and gained something so much better. What kind of wrinkling, aging not super sexy woman turns down the idea of a boyfriend? How can I be such a loser? I don’t know. I think I’m hooked on losing.

I started by losing a high status job, then a good income, then most of my stuff, my idea of what I was and all I valued, my various costumes from “Professional woman” and “Cool, aging hippy earth mother” to “Zen lady, Hindu type Goddess”  to what I am now which is a whole lot of nothing. I often find myself saying, “I don’t know how it works really.” Just yesterday at the gym I had a woman engage me in a conversation about relationships and I had to admit, “I am giving birth to myself most every day. I don’t know anything about anything.” She told me that “Open space would serve me well.” Of course I have no idea what that means but I know she meant it to be a blessing so I kept that part of it. The rest I lost like everything else.

I think it’s important now to be clear that I know I’m being glib and I’m trying to play with words but there is a truth under all this loss: there is such a thing as good suffering. I had to be hurting like hell to go through all this losing and giving away and having things pried out of my hands while I cried in a fetal ball for days at a time. I didn’t think I’d be cool and it’s lucky I wasn’t attached to that because I am not cool or rich or beautiful or anyone worth looking up to in any way. The one thing I am is about as me as I can get. Although if I was totally me I’d be dancing more and own a few tulle skirts, but I’ll get there. I don’t pretend to be anything anymore. I am not “that journalism girl” or the woman with the office, or the Zen Master. I’m just a loser divesting or having things taken away from me on a nearly daily basis and some days I’m good at that. It’s not a small thing to be good at loss.

In that process I am learning that most stuff isn’t worth holding on to–and the things I love are people, who if they love me back cannot be lost, and life itself which is full of nature and breath and connection which also cannot be lost unless I give them away.

It does not have to be true for you. I’m learning that too. If you want to collect a big old pile of stuff and hire guards and dogs to look after it and pace the perimeter with a shotgun then that’s what you want right now so go ahead and do that. It’s not for me but I can still love and appreciate you and if you want to offer me a pull off that pile of stuff of something nice–hell, I may take it. I will also be there for you when that big old pile of stuff goes away. Because it will go away and you will be sad and I will be happy to talk you through being a good loser. It’s important to be good at losing, failing and suffering. If nothing else you can help others when they’re there. You will experience these things throughout your life no matter how nice you are and what you “manifest.” Stuff will not go how you pictured and you’ve got to get good with it and figure out what to make of it. Sometimes you’ve just got to turn straw into gold. Once you get good at it- all you want is straw. It’s so much more interesting.

So if you’re in a position where you haven’t had the blessing of some solid, cry til your body aches and shakes, humiliation from which you’ll never recover, loss of everything you held dear suffering then it’s okay. I’ll pray for you. If you have, then congratulations, you know how it’s done. We will all have a plate full of life’s buffet which includes a heaping helping of suffering with gravy and also desert of nothing but sweetness. The trick is enjoying the whole meal but also being willing to go hungry.

Being a loser, I know about such things until I learn something else. Because even being a loser is not something I get to be attached to. The minute I hang on to it, it too will pass.






3 thoughts on “I’m a loser baby…so who has better advice?

  1. Something is lost when something is gained (to paraphrase from Joni Mitchel’s “Both Sides Now”). Dang, I look forward to when we can have lunch together. Being good at losing. Wow? Gotta give that a lot of thought. I still have emotional scars from a two year period in the 80s when I lost everything (home, girl I loved, bankruptcy, etc) and was reduced to the lowest depths of humility. But what you describe is not that. You are not humble or meek or shy or withdrawn. On the contrary, your words are loud, even if your voice isn”t. The irony here is that the more you say “Loser” the less of a loser you appear to be. I don’t think the issue here is losing, I think it has more do with positively living with “doing without” and that’s not a bad thing.

    As to Journalism Girl, I say give the guy a break. As I learned from studying psychology and investigating fraud (audit work) its really all about motivation and intent. Don’t look at his words, look at his intent. I wonder if he had a friendly smile on his face when he saw you. I bet he did. The words were secondary. The smile was primary.

    Carry On . More later.

    Tom V


    1. Thanks Tom. True about the kid—just making the point that “losing” can make one bold. I’ve lost my concern about telling the truth for fear it will offend. It’s not right to use condescending language toward anyone. We have grown accustomed to condescending words to and about women to the point where we think it’s okay. Imagine if you taught an accounting class and ran into a former student who called you,,that numbers boy. It takes on the tone that is correct for us both–insulting. I agree intent matters but I also think words have power and we must check each other. Women are too tolerant. That’s why we haven’t moved the needle. Men are unaware that’s also why we haven’t moved forward. The overall message was not that I am a loser because by any standard I’m not. It was that how one is seen matters so much less than how we see ourselves and what we are willing to put on the line for it. It’s also the Zen message that all things change over time so it’s best to get ahead of things and practice radical acceptance. We are all headed for the same waterfall–best to have a barrel, enjoy swimming and get ready!


  2. After my first read of your Loser essay I immediately thought of the Both Sides Now line. You’ve gained tremendously from your so-called loses. After the second read I lost the message. Reading it again I proclaim: May we all be Beautiful Losers!!

    Radical Acceptance Yes.

    (Disclosure, while in college in the 70s I read the book “Beautiful Losers” by Leonerd Cohen -yes that Leonerd Cohen- that shook me to the core. I continued reading the book into the early 80s. His theme sort of touched on what you are saying.)

    I don’t have a woman’s experience, but I get your point on the language issue.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s