Losing sucks, or so I’ve heard.

All joking aside, I think that learning to lose gracefully is an important social skill.

I didn’t always have this skill. I used to be a terrible loser. I recall many times spent playing sports with my dad in the basement or in the backyard, and crying every time he beat me. Not only that, but I became furious when I realised that someone was taking it easy on me or letting me win. Imagine the dilemma my elders faced: If they beat me, I cried. If I beat them, I accused them of letting me win, and cried. What a prick I must have been.

Recently though, I’ve learned that it’s okay to lose, for a few reasons.

1. Winning is overrated. Unless you’re a professional athlete who’s getting paid to win, or involved in a meaningful competition of some kind, winning isn’t important. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter whether or not you beat Cousin Jorge at tiddlywinks on August 9th, 2011.

2. When you lose, someone else usually wins. In general, it’s a good thing when both people in a relationship are happy. This applies to family relationships, friendships, and fuck buddies equally. If you lose a well-fought checkers match to a friend, or a family member, or a fuck buddy, odds are that you’re going to make them happy. Maybe they’ll even do a little victory dance. And as tempting as it may be to absolutely loathe the person in that moment, don’t. Your defeat, humiliating as it may have been, has served the purpose of putting a smile on their face. And putting a smile one someone’s face is rarely a bad thing.

3. Losing keeps you humble. Let me tell you from experience: There’s nothing like a 26 game unbeaten streak to inflate one’s ego. Be it Smash Bros., Pokemon, Slime Soccer, or Battleship, I have put together some colossal streaks where I’ve been completely untouchable. And while it’s nice to completely dominate another person over and over, it’s really not that fun from the other person’s perspective, especially since so much winning tends to make you an asshole. And when they finally snap your streak, they will knock you off your high horse with the force of an F5 tornado. And that’s okay, because nobody likes an asshole.

4. Sometimes, other people need to win more than you do. This one is more of a plea to human decency than anything else. If someone’s had a crappy day – maybe work was hell, maybe they received a poor mark at school, maybe they bombed a job interview – and they ask you to play a game with them to take their mind off it, you don’t go and bury them into the ground in Monopoly. I’m not saying that you should ever let anyone win – I still find that highly insulting – but you’ve got to take that competitive edge right off. Don’t shout “IN YOUR FACE!” when they land on your Boardwalk hotel. And, if defeat is imminent, don’t fight it. Just let it come to you. Like I said, there are times when other people just need to win a little bit more than you do, and if you’re a decent human being, you shouldn’t deny them.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I still don’t enjoy losing. Me and Defeat aren’t good friends or anything. But I think that it’s important to acquaint yourself with Defeat, and at least be tolerant of him when he shows up to greet you.

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