For a long time I’ve skirted around a major fact in my life: I’m a loser. A big fucking loser. Maybe you are, too. How do you know? This is a little checklist I made for myself:
1. I do little or nothing to achieve my dreams/goals.
2. I contribute little or nothing to society.
3. I am dependent on others for my happiness.
Let’s break these down real quick. “Dreams/goals” can be anything: your dream job, artistic aspirations, fitness, whatever. “Contributing to society” means you do something that affects many people in the long run, such as provide a public service, inspiring them, and making them happy every day, get the wheels turning, etc. And as far as being dependent on others goes, I’m not saying you need to be a Buddhist hermit. That’s unrealistic and relationships are definitely necessary. What you need to ask is “Am I okay on my own?” If the person YOU are at this exact moment doesn’t make you happy, or if you’re living on someone else’s dime, then you’re dependent on others for your happiness. Now go back and look at that list again.
If all three of the items applied to you, welcome aboard the loser train, buddy! There are degrees of loser, and you’re a Super Loser. If only two of them did, then we’ll go with traditional Meat Loaf wisdom and say two out of three ain’t bad; it’s not to the same degree, but you’re still a loser. Only one? Eh, you kinda get a pass, but I’d stick around. If none of these applied to you, then thank you for stopping by, Mr. Gates.
All three apply to me. I’m a complete, bona fide Super Loser and it totally sucks. I probably just called you out on being a loser, too. You might be mad at me for doing that (sad face). Or, if you’re intelligent, you might be asking, “OK, so what now?” Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to help deal with being any degree of loser:
1. Admit it.
Just like AA, the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem. And just like an alcoholic, this is the hardest fucking part. You know that Facebook friend who keeps posting about fitness? She likes to quote lame shit about how you’re failing yourself, how only you can make the change, #justdoit, etc. Why do we find her so annoying? Because she’s goddamn right and we don’t want to admit it. It’s upsetting to acknowledge we need a change because it means acknowledging a flaw. Nobody wants to be flawed, though everybody is. Denial is psychologically way easier and comfortable. That denial, though, has led us to the point of maximum suckage.
Brutal honesty with yourself is key. You aren’t “unmotivated,” you’re lazy. You won’t “look fine no matter what,” you need to lay off the cheeseburgers. In order to start improving, we have to start being absolutely ruthless with ourselves and stop sugar-coating every damn thing. We can continue to deny our loserhood, pretend we’re just *sooo perfect,* and most likely be miserable. Or we can admit to it (and that it’s making us miserable) so we can fix it.
2. Place the blame where it belongs—on yourself.
You hear this a lot nowadays, and I’ve said it a million times: “I can’t get a job because the economy is terrible.” Or maybe “High school and college didn’t prepare me for the real world.” The world is cruel, there are forces out of our control, and we obviously need a job to stop meeting the three items on the Loser Rules above. Fuck you, world, for damning me to this loser fate!
But wait a second. If we’re reading this, we have access to a computer and we’re literate. We probably have access to a bunch of other super important shit, too, like a smartphone and/or mode of transportation. We are officially better off and have way more tools and options than billions of people out there. So it’s our fault. We made ourselves losers. Again, absolute ruthlessness with yourself. Accept responsibility. Can’t get a job because the economy is terrible? Nah, I can totally get a job. I just haven’t because I’m too lazy to hone some useful skills, look for one, and/or because I think I’m too fucking special to start off working anything I perceive as beneath me. Speaking of special…
3. Accept that you are not “special.”
“Everyone is special.” Millennials heard it over and over throughout our formative years and it was such an important lesson. Guys, I have a secret: We were lied to. Not only does it not make one goddamn ounce of sense, it has led to some widespread subconscious notion of “I deserve this or that because I’m special.” Then, when we can’t get or keep that thing we think we deserve, we completely lose our shit. “I’m such a nice girl, so why can’t I get a boyfriend? I shall complain about this on Twitter!” There are millions of nice girls out there. We don’t deserve anything, because none of us is “special,” and only losers expect things to be handed to them.
4. Don’t be a martyr.
It’s incredibly easy to see our suffering as some virtue. Sure, “No pain, no gain.” I completely agree. The mistake comes when the state of suffering itself, not the act of getting out of that suffering, is lauded. I’ve recently seen some things floating around touting the message “Being poor is good for the soul!” Well, I’m poor, and it fucking sucks. We should want nothing to do with something that sucks.
I love the show Californication, and for the longest time I thought the character Hank Moody was so cool for wallowing in despair and never getting over his ex. Aw, what a heroic act of true love! It’s not heroic, it’s pathetic. Throughout 7 seasons, Hank does close to nothing to improve himself, the same loser self that caused his shitty situation in the first place. For some reason we love the image of being miserable more than we love the idea of independent happiness, and that needs to end. The more we glorify being in a shitty condition, the less people will strive to improve and get out of that condition.
5. Stop being selfish.
You ever notice that a lot of Super Losers are serious non-conformist types? Those “fuck the system, you’re all sheeple!” kind of douchers who live in their mommy’s basement and/or daddy’s pocket? They don’t like society so they do nothing to contribute to it. That was pretty much me until a few months ago when I almost died and anyone who even knew my name sent support that was completely undeserved. I had done nothing for them, not made any lasting contributions, and yet they still showed up at my bedside. Why? Because even losing one of the “sheeple” is a major loss to anyone who knew him. Because it was the right thing to do. I think I owe the world something for that.
All right, you don’t have to give back or contribute to the group. No one’s really keeping tabs. Except you. If you were being ruthless, you’d know you were being selfish and selfishness is for losers. It’s not surprising that in sticking heavily to Loser Rule #2, I found myself in and out of psych wards for suicidal depression. My selfishness had actually cut me off from appreciating my connections with people, and that led to hating myself. Contributing to society, no matter what that contribution is, probably isn’t going to fully cure my depression or yours. Remember to be realistic. But it sure as shit is gonna make you feel way better about yourself. A less selfish and way more cheesy reason to contribute? Because people love me, and they love you, and we’re kind of all in this together. Now grow the fuck up and start giving back.
6. Once a loser, always a loser.
Returning to our AA parallels, I learned from House of Cards’ Doug Stamper that they believe “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” I love that concept. If that’s not ruthless honesty in action, I don’t know what is. Perpetual striving to get and stay better. For losers, that requires constant vigilance on our habits and excuses. It requires never bullshitting ourselves. Remember that it’s really easy to be a loser, so it’s just as easy to slip back into it. It’s going to require a shitload of work on your part. I’ll go first:
“Hi, I’m Sean, and I’m a fucking loser.”