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Loser This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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You win, I lose. It's a common theme in my life. My track record with winning is about as sad as an empty Poland Spring bottle on the floor of a dingy subway station – with the label peeled off. I'm not all too sure where this misfortune comes from; perhaps in a past life I lived on the 13th floor of an apartment building, slept under a ladder, and threw rocks at mirrors for a living.

I was never in the math bee. I never won any position I ran for in student council. I lost to a sixth-grader when I was an eighth-grader in the oratorical contest. I misspelled “license” as a seventh-grader in the spelling bee. And my freshman year girlfriend beat me in our first cross-country race by three whole minutes. Humiliating? Why, yes – yes, it was. My losses are about as casual and commonplace as drinking a cup of coffee while reading The New York Times on a Sunday morning.

Loser should have been my middle name. People in my high school may think this is a misnomer, because I am very well liked, but loser truly describes me to a tee. James Michael Loser Rogers. Fitting.

Can you believe that I lost even when I deserved to win? The adolescent nightmare of the road test crept up on me June 27th, 2011, at 8 a.m. After months of drivers' education, countless hours spent perfecting the dreaded parallel park, and constant self-reminders about signaling (and not hitting the windshield wipers while doing so), I was confident that I would complete this road test better than Jeff Gordon. As I sat in the driver's seat of my black Ford Escape, I watched the monster of my nightmare, my examiner, stomp across the street. Anyone within 20 feet of her fled in the opposite direction. I should have taken the hint.

Needless to say, 60 points later, I failed. After all of my meticulous preparation, I still managed to prove myself a loser. I didn't mess up parking. I didn't forget to signal. I didn't hit the windshield wipers. I didn't collide with another car. I failed my road test because I drove on the wrong side of the road.

My road test occurred in a miniscule, pocket-sized neighborhood. There were no double yellow lines, so I technically couldn't drive on the wrong side of the road, yet somehow I was penalized for doing so.

Despite all the hardships and embarrassments losing has brought me, I am grateful. If I never had anything to strive for, I wouldn't be who I am today. Tenacity and persistence run so powerfully through my veins that I sometimes wonder how my blood has any room to squeeze through. Giving up has never been an option, and never will be. I may not have a portion of my bedroom dedicated to golden trophies and blue ribbons, but due to my ambition and perseverance, I know that I, James Michael Rogers, am a winner.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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