Lately, there's been a lot of talk about winners and losers. While the nation has been actively engaged in displaying their reactions to the outcome of the World Series or Presidential Election, now, not even a month later, our Facebook and Twitter feeds have been purged of nearly all evidence of the major headliners from early November — not including my favorite Joe Biden memes. We've moved on to — perhaps rather too quickly — Thanksgiving and Holiday themed pictures and rhetoric. But while we were busy parading or protesting, something monumentally minuscule has happened outside of the public eye. On a large scale, we were all affected in one way or another, but to acknowledge the scale of the impact all of this commotion has had on Hillary Clinton or even the Cleveland Indians isn't something to be sidestepped. When entering any sort of race, we all go in headstrong with the intent of coming out on top, but what happens when we try our best and we don't succeed? In the same vein of my piece on 'After,' a play that zeroed in on the aftermath of the event and what happens when the attention dies down, how do we reconcile our losses and move forward? This one is for all of the underdogs — whether winner or loser — who have come out of the race feeling defeated.
In any situation, it's important to remember that a loss certainly doesn't mean your life's work has come to a staggering halt. Actually, for some, it may signify an opportunity to redefine their goals or redirect their efforts — after of course they've had a few quality mourning sessions. As Dr. Will Meek of Psychology Today writes, social withdrawal is just one normal component of the grieving process. This need for isolation typically follows the acceptance stage and precedes the most productive part of any disappointment: revival. Take Nobel Peace Prize winner and losing nominee for the 43rd US Presidential Election Al Gore — you wouldn't take his loss into consideration as much as you would his aforementioned outstanding feat. As outlined by this BBC News piece on the secret lives of the 'also-rans,' great is simply not defined by the number of wins associated with your name, but rather the rigor and passion with which you pursue your goals. Great for nominees like John Kerry, who replaced Hillary Clinton as secretary of state in 2013 after losing to Bush in 2004, means the continued pursuit of their goals without extensive rumination on the past.
As for those seeking to redeem themselves in the face of a nation or even a more intimate group of people, try to take it with as much grace as Mr. Gore when he lost by exactly one electoral vote in 2000 — or like my favorite local political dynamo Leslie Knope whenever she finds herself in ridiculous situations. The point is that humility, whether it's realizing that your motivation is beyond making a headline or having the confidence to laugh at yourself from time to time, goes a long way. Win or lose, we shouldn't be so fixated on what others may perceive us as if we do one thing versus another. This of course is much easier said than done and is something I've been wrangling with for quite some time. We all want to win, but how much of that is just fueling our ego? Taking this into consideration, for those of us who already know and appreciate our worth, which should be everyone reading this, what's really the point in trying to always be the winner? No matter how down-to-earth we try to be, our internal sense of worth will always be, to some degree, linked to how we think others see us from their point of view. Yet if we're trying to take into account the aftermath of the great race or the big game, don't we all end up equaling out? I'm certainly not lobbying for any form of socialism when I say this, but at the end of the day, how long can we ride that wave of euphoria or dysphoria for that matter? Clearly, I'm not making the argument for the apathetic approach to living because purpose and a sense of direction will get us to where we want to be, but rather I'm proposing that in matters of winning or losing, we tread lightly. Sure striving to do our best and winning in the face of adversity feels great and can truly represent all of our efforts, but we should keep in mind that we're doing it for ourselves. Winning or losing is temporary — but life afterwards goes on.
While society as a whole has a tendency to place the big dogs on the pedestal and award the underdog the participation ribbon, the issue doesn't lie in a winner-loser superiority complex, but rather a disconnect in all of the things that happen before, during and after the race for greatness. But to truly understand the nature of being great, we must remove ourselves from our egos and think about the road to greatness rather than the end result. We need to immerse ourselves in practicing empathy for both the winner and the loser and perhaps loosen our definition of both. Whatever benefits the winner may have reaped — whether notoriety or improved confidence, unfortunately, won't last forever. Instead of thinking about winning or losing in terms of black or white, we should always consider the gray area because life simply isn't two-toned.