The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday December 5th

Column: Last night you took an L. Here’s how to bounce back.

DTH Photo Illustration. A student throws up an "L" on Sept. 28, 2022.
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration. A student throws up an "L" on Sept. 28, 2022.

If you've said any of these things in the past week, this article applies to you: 

I just can’t catch a break. 

I’m literally failing all my classes. 

Nothing’s going my way. 

Took another L today. (My personal favorite). 

I take losses like prescription medicine. Every single day. Boom. Forgot homework. Boom. Wore pants to sweltering LFIT. Boom. Ate pizza even though I’m lactose intolerant. Straight to the toilet. BOOM.

And I love it. 

Because I’ve gotten comfortable with my Ls. We shared a cup of coffee and became good friends. So maybe I don’t take them like prescription medicine. Maybe they’re more like those gummy vitamins that definitely don’t do anything but give you a reason to eat candy in the morning. 

I want you to become friends, or at least acquaintances, with your Ls as well.

At the beginning of the semester, one of my teachers gave my class a grading contract. It was essentially a document saying if we completed every single assignment on time with proper effort, we would end the class with at least a B. 

The moment she revealed this contract to us, it was like the smog lifted and a double rainbow shone.

Not because I thought I’d try any less in the class (not trying at stuff is lame) but because it gave me a safety net for the inevitable day I mess up an assignment.

And for some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about this idea of a contract. I realized I’ve put myself under different a kind of contract for years.

Bounce Back Step 1: Make an L Contract

Let me expose myself for the sake of journalism. Y’all know those sand volleyball courts around campus? I played there a bunch at the beginning of the year with my friends. Having only played occasionally, I sucked.

So naturally, I tried out for the men’s club volleyball team. Because I have no concept of embarrassment. 

After days of anxiously waiting for the tryout results, I got an email. I didn’t make the team. What made it even worse is that I’m six and a half feet tall. You have to actively try not to make the volleyball team at my height.

Major L.  

Even though I didn’t make it, I wasn’t mad at myself. I checked every box on my grading contract. I showed up to tryouts and tried the best I could, kind of like finishing an essay on time and to the best of my abilities. Whatever grade I got wasn’t up to me. It was up to the people walking around tryouts with clipboards.

Side note: trying your best on something isn’t the same as running yourself into the ground or pulling all-nighters. Trying your best is finishing something and thinking "I’m proud of this, even if I don’t get the results I want."

As long as you pass your grading contract (you usually will, most things in life are out of your control) you can move on.

Bounce Back Step 2: What are you gonna do about it?

I usually ask myself that question in a menacing way, like someone just slapped me across the face and said “what are you gonna do about it,” and I have no option but to do something about it because I metaphorically just got slapped across the face. 

Nobody slaps me in the face and gets away with it. Especially the universe. 

The most common mistake I’ve seen my classmates make is falling into the comfortable, warm blanket of self-pity following an L. All the washing machines were full. The barista didn’t toast their bagel. They never go to the dining hall when they have those fire BBQ soy nuggets. So they roll up tighter into the blanket.

When I opened my email and saw I didn’t make the volleyball team, my first thought was "bruh." I immediately went through the seven stages of grief — don’t try to fight bad emotions, they’re just as useful as good ones. My next thought was, "Okay, what am I gonna do about it?"

Nothing’s more empowering than taking action. Because at the end of the day, that’s all you can do. 

So, I applied to be a writer for the Daily Tar Heel. Now I’m allowed to publish my unsolicited advice on the internet. 

I took an L, and I did something about it. 

And if it feels like everything’s stacking on top of each other and you don’t even know where to begin, start small. Do something you know you can complete. Give yourself an easy win. We all need one here and there.

Remember: being a student is all about taking Ls and becoming smarter and more awesome at bouncing back like the empowered, cool and swag person you are.

Some might call it delusion. I call it living my best life. And that’s just my Two Spence. 


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