How To Not Be A Loser
This is really directed at my two nephews. There are plenty of advice pieces out there that claim to have the secret to becoming a success, I'm more interested in simply offering up some insight on how to avoid being a loser. If more people followed four simple rules to avoid becoming a loser, then we'd have a lot more winners.
I know that there is a school of thought out there that says there are no losers and everyone's a winner and I honestly hate that drivel. Society shows that there are clear winners and losers, what's hoped by refusing to acknowledge the existence of losers is that their feelings aren't hurt. Make no mistake, it is not my goal to shame the losers out there. I honestly hope to help those who are in danger of becoming losers to avoid that fate.
I would not consider myself a winner, but I am by no means a loser. I should clarify, this is not some self deprecating assessment but a clear statement of fact based on what I believe the terms mean. To be honest, I don't think there are very many winners by my narrow definition of the word. Winners are people who have had monumental success in one or more aspects of life. In all others they simply do alright. That is, they are authorities in a field of study or record holders in an athletic discipline. They are captains of an industry or successful entrepreneurs that also play the cello expertly. They are recognized by strangers and onlookers as being an unmitigated success.
Most people simply pass. They make the grade. They succeed in some areas and fail to in others. Or they do very well in some areas and only just make it in others. I would consider myself to be in this camp. Maybe they have a good singing voice and a circle of close friends and make a comfortable living, but they don't budget finances well or don't maintain their lawn well. These folks are your average. You can call them a success if you like, but I wouldn't classify them as winners, simply because of my own definition.
I don't wish to define what I believe is a loser because I will undoubtedly piss off someone who falls into that category. People know a loser when they see one. A simple barometer for one would be someone who fails at more things than at which they succeed. This trait is not naturally arrived at though. It's a trap that folks fall into because they didn't follow some simple rules. The rules are quite cliche but they bear repeating and explaining because a lot of times people simply dismiss cliches without thinking about why they've become cliches.
The rules could be considered subjects, like you have in school. Each rule is worth 25% of your final mark. If you follow the rule, you get full marks. If you don't you get zero. To get a passing grade, you need to score a final mark of 50% or higher. Pretty simple eh?
Rule #1 Work Hard
I told you they would be cliche. But this is true and arguably the most important rule. If you work hard at everything you set out to do, even if you fuck it up, it's worth it. If you fuck it up too many times though people will think you're incompetent so don't think you can replace common sense and thinking with simply putting your back into things and trying hard. Why is working hard at it important? People notice. The manager at your first shitty part-time job notices, your co-workers notice, customers notice. It's quite possibly the easiest way to advertise that you're worthy of respect to those around you.
Do the best you can possibly do at what you're doing. This applies to school and sports and everything in between. If people see you working hard it steps up their game as well. Or they become jealous and call you a brown-noser or suck up. Watch those people, those are future losers. This rule is probably the most important because it's one of those rules that if you follow in everything you do and consistently apply it, you actually have a better chance of becoming a winner.
One more thing regarding rule number one; don't think you can ignore it if you have talent. There is always someone out there more talented than you, and if they combine that talent with working hard, they will become winners. Those who rely on talent and don't work hard may do alright for awhile, but will look both untalented and lazy in comparison when the hard-working talented person shows up.
Rule #2 Stay in School
This should really be changed to 'finish school' or don't drop out before you've graduated from high school or secondary school or whatever they call it where you live. This is so obvious but it's so important as well. It should also be noted that staying is school doesn't mean indefinitely. Don't think you have to go to college or university. It gets you bonus points, but if you didn't follow the other three rules, you're just a loser with a degree. Going on to higher education doesn't make you better or more enlightened. Especially considering the current state of academia. That's another essay.
The point is that if you cannot at least complete high school, people will think you're either stupid or lazy or both. I'm not saying that you necessarily are those things if you fall into this category, but that's the perception. High school is not difficult. It's tedious, it's full of assholes, it's time consuming and there are millions of more enjoyable ways to spend your time, but you need to do it if only to show others that you were able to finish something.
The greatest benefit gained from completing high school besides the diploma, is the exposure it gives you to others. You'll start to see people as different. Your fellow students have different ideas, express themselves differently, have different interests. You will learn the plurality of opinion that exists in the larger world.
You'll also come to discover that not all adults are necessarily worthy of respect, but should at least be shown some if you wish to gain full marks for rule number two. They can expel you after all, and failing to follow rule number two because you pissed off a teacher or administrator one too many times is still failing rule number two. If you fail rule number two, then rule number one becomes all that much more important.
Rule #3 Wear a Condom
I said this was for my nephews, but the basic principle applies to girls as well. You're going to have sex. Enjoy it. Just use something to protect yourself from both STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Nothing derails your plans like getting pregnant before completing high school. Getting an STD is no picnic either.
I know some losers and a sizable portion of them have been treated for STDs. That doesn't mean that everyone who's ever gotten the clap or the drip is a loser, but getting either one indicates you had poor judgment at least once in your life.
Getting an STD is more damaging to girls. I know it's a double standard ladies, but life's not fair. Not only can some infections affect your fertility, but there is the added stigma associated with the idea that you are 'dirty'. Sexist? Yes. But true. This double standard exists for one obvious but uncomfortable to hear reason. The amount of energy and time a woman has to devote to being pregnant, carrying the fetus to term and possibly raising the child means that women are expected by society to exercise even better judgment than their male counterparts when it comes to choosing sexual partners.
Women are directly affected by those poor decisions more profoundly than males. Whether they carry to term or have an abortion there is almost always an affect on her well-being. It can be from psychological anguish over an abortion or from a sense of loss of independence associated with motherhood. Even those who give the baby up for adoption, often feel loss or become embroiled in legal headaches years later when their offspring seek them out.
Don't go snickering and think you're free to spread your seed with wild abandon, though boys. Society over the years has been set up with those male tendencies in mind and now makes your responsibility in taking care of the fruit of your loins a priority. Guys who get girls pregnant and leave them in the lurch are considered scumbags by just about everyone, including the courts who will quite happily derail your plans as well and see to it you pay for your error in judgment.
At the end of the day, not using a condom will result in poor outcomes of one sort or another. That poor outcome indicates poor judgment. People who consistently make poor judgments, will wind up being losers.
One caveat here. It's possible to not follow this rule and never suffer any fallout. If you do, you're dumb lucky. You'll get full points, but it's like guessing on the multiple choice test and getting a passing grade anyway. If you continue to ignore this rule, I would be very surprised if you suffer absolutely no fall out whatsoever. Just wrap it up, folks.
Rule #4 Learn From Your Mistakes
This is an easy one. It's the easiest to do, or rather should be. Even if you don't start out following any of the other rules, if you follow this one, you will start to realize the error of your ways and be inclined to start following the other three. This one shouldn't even count as a rule because I think instinctively, people follow this one. It's part of being sentient or something. Even as a baby we learn what not to touch by first burning ourselves, we learn what not to eat by first putting something nasty in our mouths. For me, it was a 9 volt battery.
Part of learning from your mistakes is owning them. This one's important for the follow through. If you fuck up, recognize you fucked up, admit it and endeavor not to do it again. The absolute worst thing you can do regarding your mistakes is blame someone else. It is not society's fault for your failures. Your individual agency is a greater determining factor in your success and failure than any perceived unjust system that's in place and you imagine yourself prey to. If systems were the real reason why people fail, then there would be no instances where different people born of similar circumstances showed deviation in their rates of success or failure.
Yes, some people are smarter than others, better looking, funnier, possessed of a higher metabolism than others. But they all exist in the same world and have all had to at some point gone to school, held a job, made romance and made mistakes. What separates them more than their respective genetic gifts and frailties is how they navigated those particular challenges and whether or not they followed the rules.
If you hold on to the notion that you lack the talent, smarts, bodily health or sense of humor to follow these four simple rules, or that the rules don't apply to you, or that others have it easier than you, and that's why they've succeeded where you have failed, then I maybe you're just a born loser.