“You will never waste this life, even if you think you lost. If you never landed that dream job. If your love story became the biggest heartbreak of your life. If you never broke barriers of the status quo. If you never reach the weight society tells you is the perfect number. If you never have the mansion or the money that can give you everything you think will make you happy, operative word: think. If you don’t have all the friends the popular girl has. If you don’t get the guy of your dreams. If you sit with a college degree or no degree. If you self-medicate with M&M’s more than you should (peanut, please), you still won. You won it all. So, sigh relief now.
Because everything you did before realizing you won or lost, is just how you won. But you will only ever believe this if you change what winning is. You need to redefine the term because the one we all know is a falsehood. You must see winning and losing is not a definitive moment of classifying final outcomes, but rather a collection of moments, or the play-by-play of this game we call life. But if all you can see is the verdict: the defining moment that constitutes if you won or lost, which is also known as the moment when the person or idea in power crowns the winner and gracefully places you second – for then and for only then will you have truly lost. If the moments don’t count to you because the title wasn’t yours, you have lost. Don’t let that be you; that is a sad life.
Winning at life is way more robust than that. It’s way more whole than that. That’s too one-sided. We need a multi-dimensional approach to save our souls. This standard definition of winning is toxic. When we apply it to winning at life, it’s almost near-fatal. You won if you got the degree? Yeah, right! You won if you got ‘the guy.’ What the hell is ‘the guy?’ You won if you weigh 120 pounds. I’m not hating on the thinner girls, but there’s just as many guys (and girls) who prefer bigger. You won if your bank account, just like your scale, has the perfect digits. I’m ready to puke now.
It’s disgusting we think ANYTHING outside of ourselves defines if we won at life. Let’s go higher. Way higher. First thing? Throw out the scale, forget the degree, and stop comparing your house to the Smith’s down the street. Once we rid ourselves of everything and every concept outside of our own soul, then the real work can be done. Then the redefining can be done. Your victory is in the moments lived and the hand played; your victory is not in the crowning of the winner by external factors mentioned above. Because, that moment of ‘winning or losing’ or those things, are not what you should be living for.
Think of a baseball game. Yes, a baseball game. If you sit in the crowd and cheer on your favorite team, or if you rock a jersey and play the game, you have to know WHY you are there. There are so many reasons why you are there. Winning or losing doesn’t change those reasons. And winning or losing doesn’t become superior to those moments either. See, there will always be a winner or a loser. Always. But this is not what we need to live for or care about. If you showed up at the game, despite the outcome of the game, you won the game.
There’s something that happens as you await knowing if you won the game or not. Some moments occur that are too great to be defined by a title or a score that tells you whether you’ve made it or haven’t made it. Maybe he broke your heart, I get it. But maybe you had the time of your life waiting to meet the heartbreak. How can you hate someone for that? You’re not always going to be someone’s forever, but this doesn’t discount the memories you made with them. If you can make memories, you’re winning.
Maybe you got the degree or you didn’t. Either way, you had moments in your life that made you who you are while you were on the journey to receiving the degree or taking an alternative pathway. You were on a journey, degree or not, right? So, you won.
Maybe you don’t weigh what you or the world thinks you need to weigh. In your mind and their mind, you’re a failure. They may even deem you lazy or careless. But you know a journey not everyone knows. You know compassion that not everyone in your shoes knows. You know not to comment on the next person’s size because you know how deep those comments can cut. You know even though you may have consumed too many slices of your favorite pizza, each slice was heavenly and you enjoyed it. You know during every weight fluctuation you’ve endured, you’re still the same person. You know depth in a way not everyone can know depth because not everyone walked your journey. You can go way deeper than skin-deep. Isn’t that winning?
My point is, what you think is a loss really isn’t a loss. Back to that baseball game. There are home runs that have people on the edge of their seats and about to fly to the center of the field because the feeling of joy is too great to contain.
There is the moment when three strikes hit, and you think you’ve lost every ounce of joy inside you only to be saved again by the home run just mentioned. It’s experiencing the intense cycle of winning and losing, over and over again, that means you lived. And living, even through the failure, means you won because you’ve still experienced so much.
It’s also in that sweet moment of unexpected mercy that makes your soul weep with happiness while it does private acrobats only you know of. Those. Are. The. Sweetest. Moments. There is cheering, and there is fear. There are nerves so great and screams too loud, it’s so worth the risk of never hearing again. Kind of.
There is that bite of a hot dog that never tasted so good just because it’s a hot dog you’re eating at no other place than a ball game. If you ate it anywhere else, it wouldn’t be the same. It sits so marvelously in your hand because you’re living. Remember, you’re not just anywhere. You’re at a baseball game. You’re in the stands living out the cultural phenomenon of a good old American baseball game, and d–n, you are super happy about it. There’s a risk, though.
There’s a risk you may leave the stands so melancholy because the other team still has the possibility of huddling together while their ever joyous yell reminds you they stole the night. The defeat could overtake you. You’re losing in these very moments, but not so. It’s a lie. These are the very moments which mean you’re living. And this is where the real win is – in all of the experiences that take you to the ending moment you think is your end-all, be-all. Think again.
Why should every moment of the game be in vain because you or your team was not crowned the winner? All of that is going to be a waste because your team wasn’t announced the champion? I think not. I can’t live for definitive moments that label my spirit as a winning spirit or a losing spirit; neither should you.
You lived so much before the final moment – before the crowning. You experienced so much before that moment. Baby, you already won. Because, again, there are so many reasons to believe so. There’s who you went to the game with. Maybe you showed up solo because you’re trying to know your own company better. Maybe it was a date with the one guy or girl who can make anything fun for you just because their soul is that dynamite.
Maybe you’re with your person of 50 years, or maybe you’re not. Maybe it doesn’t matter who you’re with. Maybe it just matters you’re there, soaking it all in. You’re feeling it all, including the hope of scoring all the way to the despair of not scoring enough points. You have to taste it all, even the sadness. Living isn’t only a happy thing. And happiness isn’t only a winning thing.
You are in the play-by-play. You are in the moments of life. Life doesn’t happen when the winner is announced and the loser is sulking. Life happens in everything that occurs before the defining moment that is actually not-so-defining. See, if you spend your whole life waiting for the winner to be announced, and only live to win, then you will spend your whole life losing. What a paradox, huh?
If every moment of your life is in vain because your team didn’t take the prize, or your hit didn’t seamlessly become a home run, then you will never be happy. You will spend your whole life trying to win at a game you’re already winning at, but will never see you’re winning. Your moments become memories, and if you have memories, you win. It’s that easy.
There are so many minor moments that made the day at the game and your life as a whole what it is. Life doesn’t happen when the winner is announced. Life isn’t defined by who wins and who loses. Again, yes, again because it needs to be said 900 million times, life happens during the play-by-play. Life is what is happening when you’re trying so hard to win. And equally important: life isn’t happening when you’re trying so hard to never play at all because you’re afraid you won’t ‘win.’
Go play ball. And be thankful if you lose. When you just play at life (or in the game), you automatically win.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Felicia Naoum of Parma, Ohio, and originally appeared here. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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