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The Happiest Loser EVER

2004-02-04 - 9:31 a.m.

Sometimes I amaze myself. Sometimes I depress myself. The fact that I have this odd tendency to do so at the same time is both amazing and depressing. And comedic.

So I didn't get the Thouron Award yesterday, as I said in my last entry. Well, by the time I got home that night, I was feeling incredibly upbeat. It was part and parcel of my strange, almost mutant ability to look on the bright side. Of anything. Something tells me that in a former life I was trying to lead sing-a-longs in a death camp. My cheerfulness is that depressing.

I feel that I should be making phone calls, demanding to know why I, The Notorious RRZ, Queen of the Universe, was denied a scholarship I had so obviously deserved. Or I should have been calling my friends, tearfully demanding that they take me out for a lot of booze and nachos, and that THEY pay (sseing as I wouldn't be getting a scholarship). I should have gone home early from work, curled up in bed, and cursed all political science and bioengineering majors, not to mention every citizen of the British Isles.

People would have understood. I had just lost what was probably my only chance to be able to afford going to England, a place I've longed to live in for almost three years now. People would have given me the day to deal. But I told myself that, when compared to wars and poverty and disease, my problems meant absolutely nothing, and after a very short time I was totally fine. I let out the occassional bitter comment, but I faced the rest of the day with a smile on my face. A relatively genuine smile.

Isn't that depressing? It depresses me! I always want to smack people who can handle rejection well. I feel like I'm 40 years old right now. I'm not supposed to get philosophical about this. I'm supposed to bitch and moan while I'm still young enough to get away with it.

Alright, the truth is that I couldn't have done this alone. If anything, losing this award made me grateful for a lot of things, which, again, makes me want to stick my head in a bucket of water and drown myself. I hate that I'm perky. Summer camp directors could take lessons from me.

For one thing, I am grateful for the fact that I have perspective. One thing that I thought of after not getting the award was that, although everyone on the panel was someone who had, at one point, received the award, none of them were people whom I had heard of. The one person who had actually received it for a drama program had, in fact, wound up a high school teacher. Yes, she was a high school teacher at a very prestigious private school and had complete control over her curriculum, which is nothing to sneeze at, but she was still a high school teacher. There's nothing wrong with being a high school teacher, of course, but I wasn't participating in this scholarship in order to be a high school teacher, or even a college professor. I was using this as a stepping stone to my goal of total world domination, or at the very least becoming an internationally esteemed director of politically charged experimental theatre and performance art. Harold Pinter telling me I couldn't have the award would have hurt. A high school teacher, an architect, and someone who works for Travelocity saying I can't have it I can get over.

Of course, I think the architect and the high school teacher were probably two of the people who fought for me, so I shouldn't use them as examples. But they were the only people whose professions I remembered.

This sounds like sour grapes, but what I mean to say in all this is that most of my heroes did not receive major awards like this one. A number of my favorite artists never went to college, and some didn't even graduate high school. They wrote or performed or played music while working shitty jobs, improved their game in their free time, and wound up becoming extraordinary artists. If I had to choose, I'd rather never get to England and write something really good, just once, than graduate with highest honors from Oxford and never be anything more than a really good critic.

This is what I kept telling myself, but it took other people to really hammer it home, which brings me to the next thing I'm extraordinarily grateful for: my friends. First of all, I sent out the "I lost" email yesterday and had a good number of responses throughout the day. All were along the "screw 'em" and "at least we'll still have you on this side of the Atlantic" lines. It made me able to face the rehearsal I had last night for the show I'm working on. It's been very touch and go, but last night everyone was excited and happy and had even done the things I had asked them to do while I was gone. I was enthusiastic again, and realized that the reason I had spent so much more time on this than on graduate schools was because this WAS more important to me than grad school. Don't get me wrong, I still intend to go. But while I'm there, helping the people who are close to me achieve their artistic potential will always matter more to me. Hell, my own artistic goals will be more important to me. This might not go over to well with the profs, but I've already proved that I am comfortable spending every hour of a 16 hour day working on something. Admittedly, one of the somethings is this diary, but let's not get into that.

You see, what it all boils down to is that everyone wants to feel special and safe. Yesterday, when my future felt threatened and I felt below average, everyone around me made me feel special and safe.

I learned that little tidbit from Avenue Q, which also did a lot to get me through yesterday with a smile on my face. Avenue Q is Sesame Street for grown-ups, a musical about young people trying to realize their dreams in New York and, for the most part, failing. In other words, it's a relatively accurate portrayal of life. What makes the musical so wonderful is that it reminds us that everyone fails, that no one ever gets everything they want. What makes life worthwhile in the face of these failures is the combination of having friends whose lives suck as much as yours and having the perspective to see that, yes, life is hard, but eventually everything passes, both good and bad. Even George Bush will eventually get kicked out of the White House. That thought alone will get anyone through the day.

Whenever I was in the car, I was listening to the lyrics and singing them at the top of my lungs. I must have made for a pretty ridiculous picture, with my head bobbing from side to side with the childlike melody. I felt a little self-conscious, but then I realized that no one who would notice would know me, and everyone who knew me wouldn't care. So I kept singing, "Don't stress! Relax! Let life roll of your backs! Except for death and paying taxes everything in life is only for now!" I got this image in my head of everyone I knew singing the song for me, the same way that everyone in Avenue Q sings the song for the English major who has no idea what to do with his life.

If that's not totally pathetic, I don't know what is. There I was, sitting in my car, imagining a musical number to cheer myself up. I'm surprised I didn't just drive off a bridge.

But I think about this kid who I met at the competition, who said things like, "I could never work in an office" and "I've only ever lost one thing in my entire life." I felt sad for the boy, and, actually, I hope he didn't get the award. After I graduated, I drifted for a while and took a job I didn't want. I faced rejection plenty of times. I'm at the point where I can now handle it, and get over it, and laugh at my own ridiculous capacity to do so. The boy had such fear in his voice when he talked about losing. I was upset for an hour or two and ready for the next round of whatever was coming up by 5pm.

I remember when I wasn't like that, when I was the typical over achiever who feared rejection like it was the ebola virus. When I think about it, I was a lot more pathetic back then.

So if you ever need a lesson in how to remain disgustingly perky in the face of losing, drop me a line. And if you ever want to hit someone like that, call someone else. Emotional pain I can handle, but this face is far too pretty to get knocked around. And, if you guys can't stand the idea of someone so happy in their car, rest assured that, were the car spoken of in the following article from The Onion actually real, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

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previous - next

The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30

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