Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shiny Trophies, Shiny Failure

Debate season has started. For me, this means a couple of things. For one, I will start looking worse and worse. For another, I'm probably going to be freakishly bi-polar. It also means I need to be prewriting the Foreign Fridays and setting the timer publisher thing, because there just isn't enough time Friday morning. (I'msorrydon'thateme.) But most of all, it means that I'm going to get competitive.
See, I'm not competitive in sports. I'm more the kid that's like Oh, look, there's a ball coming -- DUCK! There's no point in me being competitive at that, because the public school system doesn't acknowledge that ducking is a  pretty impressive reflex and should be awarded as well. I personally would accept this trophy.

But that doesn't happen. So I become competitive at academics.
Debate, in particular, is what I tend to focus on. And guess what? I'm actually kind of good at it. I came into Junior year excited, because for the first time, I would have the ultimate edge of age.
Yeah. Funny, huh? Earlier this week my couch put me in something called Champ debate. It's more oriented toward seniors. Which means I would be among the youngest competing. For the third year in a row.
My partner and I prepared more than we ever have before. We knew the topic backward and forward. We spent hours and hours working on it, and we actually felt pretty good. I mean, we'd done well before with odds against us.
Guess what?
We failed.
Like, serious, the worst I've ever done.
And every time something went badly, I'm just sitting there horrified. I mean, I'm supposed to be good at this. Why do I keep losing? Was there like, essence of suckage in my coffee that morning? Oh, god, I'm going to end up a failure at life and have to like, be a trophy wife or something. (You see, even in panicked states, I am indeed thinking about trophies.)
Truth time? We prepared, but we prepared for the minor leagues. We didn't think about the big stuff - what could we trick people with, how could we trap them. Plus, we went up against the best. Every single team we hit -- every single flipping team -- was in finals. Every. Single. One.
I wasn't sure whether to be amused or not.
It's depressing to lose. If it wasn't, then we wouldn't want to win so freaking badly. (Also, those trophies are sparkly. That helps too.) In writing, it's the same way. I've talked to a lot of people who queried for maybe a month or so, got nowhere, and gave up. I've read blogs where people continually lament their losses.
And yes. I get it. It hurts. You do want to give up.
Yes, it's depressing.
But your first time out, you are the underdog. If you don't prepare properly, nothing matters. Preparation alone isn't enough; you have to pour yourself completely into it, think in ways no one else has, and still, sometimes, you just don't win. You keep getting reviews, but that doesn't really matter to some people. It's still miserable. And dude, does it suck.
Guess what, though?
Next tournament, I know what I'm doing. Next time, I know the competition. Next time, I am going to get a pretty shiny trophy.
And maybe for you, when it comes to writing, you'll get that shiny trophy your next time. Even if you don't, you will eventually. You just gotta keep trying.
Seriously, I promise.
The trophies are definitely worth it.
More later. 


Abby Minard said...

I competed in Forensics in high school, and my husband did debate. I know the stress you are going through right now- they would work for HOURS on their debate cases (I didn't know my husband then, but I knew the debaters well). After high school I'd come back and judge, and sometimes they'd make me judge debate. No offense, but man, judging debate...not my cup 'o tea. You guys do so much research though, its amazing. Good luck with the debate season!

Sam said...

Forensics and debate are actually the same thing at my school! It's really crazy -- fun, but stressful. And yeah, judging debate? Not fun. I'm doing that next weekend for the freshman.
Thanks for the luck. I'll need it! :P