Confession: I personally identified with the label “loser” for the vast majority of my life. It started when I was young, and didn’t relent even after I had success as a writer. Even with millions of copies of my novels printed, translated into other languages, and published by different publishers, I still considered myself to personally be a loser: my writing was successful, not me. It’s crazy the ways we can manipulate our thinking to stay in our current identity, or the way I do, anyway. I guess I can’t speak for anyone else, though honestly, I think most of us do the same.
So now that I’ve confessed that I had an extremely large negative ego, I am also going to confess that at my extreme core, I didn’t believe I was a loser. I felt connected, valuable, and even cherished. Unfortunately, I didn’t believe that inner voice as much as I believed what I picked up from others, and then adopted as my self-image. Not their bad… or mine for that matter. Though it was my choice to believe outside influences or not, I didn’t have the maturity or confidence back then to choose differently.
It’s been a long road from that mindset, with many hard experiences and difficult realizations that have changed me irrevocably. To write them all would be a book or two. However, I do want to share an inspiration about loserishness that I received a couple of months ago like a bolt from the blue.
There are no losers. They do not exist. Therefore, I can’t be one, and neither can anyone else.
Since that realization, I’ve been thinking about it, trying to understand and discover the why of it, and this is what I’ve come up with:
First, my definition of loser: Losers are found at the bottom of the “heap” and are those who display the opposite of a trait, characteristic, or image of value. The winners are at the top, and they personify the desired quality. Most people are somewhere in the middle. I think that’s a pretty common definition.
But what is the “heap”?
Rich/poor? Wise/foolish? Famous/obscure? Intelligent/slow? Kind/cruel? Is it based on political leaning, race, gender, sexual orientation?
The possible combinations are in the hundreds at the very least. And here is why losers don’t exist: no one is at the top of all the heaps, no one is at the bottom of everyone.
You may be thinking (as I did) that some heaps are more important than others. That brings up more questions… Who can arrange the heaps according to importance? Who has the wisdom and smarts and knowledge to judge the ranking of every trait and characteristic with complete accuracy?
Not me. Not anyone I know. What’s more, even if an all-knowing intelligence accurately labelled the most important heaps for us, few would accept the labels. The reason? We choose labels that reflect our own world view and experience. Each of us decides which are the most important heaps to us.
And this is hugely revealing – not revealing of those we position within our important heaps, but revealing of ourselves. The heaps we chose as our most important say more about us than about the people we categorize.
So, to sum up: Losers don’t truly exist, because we are all at the bottom, we are all at the top, we are all in the middle, of literally hundreds, if not thousands, of heaps, and the only judge of which heaps are important, is our own limited world view and experience. Even further, if we pay attention to who we label winners or losers, we have a clear window into the value system closest to our hearts.
Of course, you’ve probably noticed there’s another way to see this. Instead of saying losers don’t exist, you can insist that they do – and then we’re all losers. Either way, the result is the same: everyone is in the same boat.
If I could go back in time and tell myself something, it would be this: “Lighten up. Yeah, you suck, but you also rule, just like everyone else.” And going forward from here? It seems a whole new world.