I intend for this to be the first in a series wherein I do battle with, and am almost exclusively defeated by, the universe. Likely future installments include Tristan vs The Jesus Fish and Tristan vs Ho Chi Minh. I lost both those battles real hard.
One Saturday last spring I got up early to join my friends for a yoga lesson at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This is a totally lovely museum, and you should totally go some time, but maybe just not for yoga.
A little backstory: the night before, I’d attended a peer workshop where I hadn’t been assertive enough and my piece went entirely un-peer-workshopped. Just as the session was winding down, within minutes, I received two rejections for my writing.
I arrived at yoga in an utterly demoralized mood, and the beginner lesson, which cost $15 I really couldn’t spare (journal submission fees add up), was so difficult. So. Difficult. People had their entire legs behind their ears while balancing on two fingers. From my collapsed position on the ground, it seemed like everyone else had this in the bag.
I looked around the room of athletic, flexible, cheerful people out there murdering that downward dog, and I just knew I couldn’t handle failing at one more thing. I refused to fail.
So I did the only reasonable, adult thing: I quit.
I turned to my friend Lauren, told her I had to go to the bathroom, and walked straight out of the museum. Then I walked three miles home because Lauren had driven me to yoga. I stopped at a Starbucks on the way, and bought myself a pity Frappuccino, which I also couldn’t afford. I slurped the drink as loudly as I could to cover the sound of my strangled weeping.
I got home, locked myself in my room, turned off my phone, and took three Tylenol PMs. At 11:14 am. Before blacking out, I ran through a mental litany of every misstep and mistake I’d made in my entire life. Like if Arya Stark had turned all that rage inward.
When I woke up at 7, having slept off my funk, (and frakked my sleep schedule for a week), I apologized to my friends. And assured them I was only marginally entirely off my rocker. I made plans to see them on Sunday, and turned on my laptop. Did I channel all my frustration and despair into writing something truly great?
Oh, hell no. I watched an entire season of Drag Race.
So why am I telling you all this? Aside from how hilariously ill-equipped I am for all aspects of, you know, functioning as an adult? Partially because this story has a silver lining. One of my pieces found a home. You can read it here!
But mostly because people say artists fail constantly, and therefore must have thick skins. And the first part of that is certainly true. In the midst of writing this, I checked my email and discovered I didn’t even get an interview for a job I know I would be perfect for. I am currently, right now, as I type, failing. And it sucks.
But if you don’t love something enough for it to hurt you, maybe you don’t love it enough at all. And it’s okay to get your feelings hurt. It’s okay to wallow. The International Olympic Committee isn’t keeping tabs on your moments of self-doubt, penalizing you for not getting up quicker. You just can’t stay down forever.
In the words of a fortune cookie that I related to on a emotional level: Fall down seven times, stand up eight.
Also maybe don’t take more than the recommended dosage of a sleep aid while it’s still, technically, morning.