I’m prone to losing. Just this week, I walked right into a table in Midtown, which left me with a fist-sized bruise on my hip and a drink spilled all over me. I also accidentally texted a screenshot of a conversation to the person I was having that conversation with. I started uncontrollably crying at a Bon Iver concert and, like all of you, watched the Gators lose.
That’s just this week. Don’t get me started on 2017, which gifted me with three broken bones, two broken phones and — you guessed it — a broken heart.
Until recently, I never would have considered even starting to write a column about how much of a loser I am. But I’ve noticed a change in our culture at UF, and I’m ready to jump on the bandwagon of accepting losses, embracing them and broadcasting them. I think we might be onto something with the new fad.
The concept of losing is stepping into the spotlight. We’re no longer hiding from the fact that we might not be perfect — we’re normalizing it, and we’re celebrating it. We’re tying a little bow around experiences that would have made us feel scared, insecure or embarrassed with four words: “I took the L.”
For a trophy generation supposedly obsessed with praise, this trend is out of character. It’s unlike us to display an unfiltered, unedited view of our low points for the whole world to see. When we all flocked to Instagram in high school, it was a place for perfectly posed photos intended to elicit jealousy for how cool our lives were. When that got old, half of us made new accounts to document the real losses in our lives and called it “finsta,” ironically short for fake Instagram. Now, we’ve evolved past the point of needing one secluded place for stories of dropping pizza slices on the West University Avenue sidewalk or five-second footage of walks of shame. We’re sharing them through group chats, 21st birthday event pages and at Sunday brunch tables. We’re secretly OK with our drunk selfies being the main photo of our GroupMe chats. We’re divulging our losses with our friends and then — here’s the best part — we’re moving on.
The relief associated with taking the L probably makes no sense to our parents’ generation or their parents’ generation. Why are we fine with the world knowing how badly we mess up or what series of unfortunate events we get ourselves into? Because we’ve made it OK for each other to fail miserably, epically and shamelessly. You won’t find us burying our heads in our pillows over-thinking our mistakes, but you will see us learning from them while we laugh about them.
Sara Blakely, founder and CEO of Spanx, Inc., and one of my personal heroes, says her dad used to make her talk about her failures at the dinner table — the more embarrassing, the better. She was applauded for messing up, and now she openly talks about mess-ups with her employees. Without even knowing it, we’ve collectively created the same failure-friendly environment for each other.
It’s not a straight line from snapchatting your barefoot walk down Bourbon Street to becoming a millionaire or even a relatively successful member of society. It’s a dotted line and probably a very curvy line, but it’s there. We have to know that our low points don’t define us, but accept them as a part of our stories. If half the battle is learning to take some L’s and to be proud of the way we move past them, I’d say that for once we get the W.
Carly Breit is a UF journalism senior. Her column appears on Wednesdays.