You Have to Give a Shit


My high school debate team lost in the state tournament because I was afraid to lose.

I was afraid that if I tried and we lost it would matter. It would mean I was a loser. So I didn’t practice. I slacked during mock debates, I played it all off because it was easy for me.

My partner, she practiced every night. Reciting her speeches until everything was as perfect as she could get it. I was more talented than her, but she put in the time to get better. And in the end, I cost our team. I missed arguments that cost us a victory.

Everything was easy for me back then. School, debate. I didn’t have to try to be good. So I didn’t try too hard.

In many ways, I didn’t give a shit.

I used that as a shield. If we lost, oh well. Not my fault. I didn’t care that much anyway. At least I didn’t put everything I had into it. If I had, and we still lost, what would that have said about me? Was I a complete failure?

Instead I did my team a disservice, coasting along, even as they worked much harder. And I failed us.

Because I was afraid to fail. Afraid to lose.

It wasn’t until things got hard that I really started to give a shit. To put myself into it. Take risks. Be vulnerable.

It’s terrifying. Every day. But it’s the only way I know to succeed. I have to show up. I have to be ready to have my heart trampled on, to have my ideas challenged, to mess up and start over again.

That’s how I get better. That’s how we become the best we can be.

We have to give a shit.