Tag Archives: sad

Embrace Failure.

You took a chance.  You ignored everyone who told you not to.  You tightened your belt, clenched your fists, and believed with all your heart that you were going to make your dreams a reality.  Each day demanded your blood, sweat, and tears.

And then, finally, after having invested so much into your dream, you encounter your first major failure.  Your book is fundamentally flawed, the writing barely a step above novice.  Your business model is unsustainable.  You didn’t pass the exam.

The thought of your failure is overwhelming.  Your breathing is constricted, your chest throbs with dull pain, your knees wobble.  You remember all the people who you told of your inevitable success.  You’re going to collapse.  What will they think?  Your failure is a big, lighted sign announcing to the world that they were right all along not to believe in you.  You think about how you aren’t special.  You think about how you should’ve fallen in line with the rest of them, just as you were meant to.  

Your legs buckle and you hit the floor.  The pain distracts you for a moment, and for that you are thankful, but the emotions catch up quickly.  Your face rests in a puddle of fresh tears.  You tried, and you failed.  It’s over.  It’s all over.

I’m here to tell you it’s not over.  

Get up from the floor and stand up straight.  Wipe your face dry with your sleeve.  Breathe in as deep as you can.  Cold air rushes into your lungs like an avalanche.  

Embrace your failure.  Learn to respect failure.  Your failure is a badge of honor — wear it with pride.  You attempted something great.

You seem calmer now.  Good.  Think about your project.  What did you do wrong?  How can you improve?  What have you learned?  If the answers don’t come easy, keep thinking — they will come.  Study.  Research.  Question.  

Why?  

You still want this.

Spent too much time already, too much energy already.

Don’t let laziness rule your future.  Few succeed overnight.  Remember what motivated you in the first place.  Remember the life that awaits you if you stop now.  Don’t let yourself post-rationalize.  Visualize everything.  Don’t hold back.  You still want this dream, dammit.

Can’t handle another failure.

Every failure makes you better if you make an effort to learn from your mistakes.  Failures are not dead ends.  Failures are steps forward.  With each failure, you inch closer and closer to your goal.  If you have not succeeded, then you are moving closer.  Always remember that.

It’s not over until you decide that it is.  

The Stars Don’t Shine in the City (Short Story)

Wrote this three years ago when I was in college.  I had just read about the fatal beating of an A-student in an inner city school in Chicago, and was deeply saddened by the event. It inspired me to write this. Hope you enjoy.

Jamal was coming home late.

His English teacher, Mr. Johnson, had delayed him after class to discuss his future.  Specifically, the possibility of a college education.  Even as Jamal approached the squalor of the projects, he allowed a small grin to creep up from the side of his mouth.  It was Mr. Johnson who had convinced Jamal to expect more from himself, who told him that he could be somebody, and so, in the midst of struggle, he began to rely heavily on his teacher for support.  He might even admit that he liked Mr. Johnson, and that was a rare thing.

Rarity defined Jamal – shambling under the weight of a stuffed backpack – his bookishness, his curiosity, all presented an unfamiliar image around these parts.  In a place where dreams were buried prematurely, his had survived for an unusually long time, enough to earn him the jealous scorn of peers who had relegated themselves to a life of small victories and even smaller expectations.

“Ay yo, check it – here comes that Steve Urkle lookin’ mothafucka.”

Jamal immediately recognized the slouching figures crowded ahead on the street corner.  Long ago, when they were kids, they used to play together.  Now they were entry-level thugs slinging drugs, thinking they were kings that had finally been given the crowns they rightfully deserved.  As Jamal walked past, he felt the violent burn of their judgments, a cigarette butt on the skin of his being, forcing him into a forward march, step-by-shameful-step.  He took care to remain submissive.  They would appreciate that.  Build up their ego a bit, he figured, and then they might ignore him.  In a way, Jamal understood their swagger.  To prosper on these streets demanded a different set of skills, and he didn’t blame them for what they did.  What use was an education when problems here were better solved at the smoking end of a pistol barrel or opiate pipe?  Intellectual sympathies notwithstanding, he pressed on past his would-be aggressors.

“Damn son, Mr. Johnson’s dick must taste like a mothafuckin’ haagen-daaz, huh?  Punk ass over there with him talkin’ bout all kinds of freaky shit, I bet.”  They began to orgasmically moan Mr. Johnson’s name: Damon.

Jamal kept his eyes glued to the pavement. Continue reading