“The definition of a loser in another era” by Jostein Wolff

Anna kept wondering if she could be a slacker too. According to the rules, she could not count as a slacker, as long as she remained in Law School. Med and Law students were strictly excluded from the slacker tribe, or the so called generation-X. Her friends never pondered on the subject. As if they had never heard Beck singing, in a reluctant voice, admitting his defeat, nor Kurt Cobain claiming that he was the worst at what he did best. As if they never watched Trainspotting, especially the opening lines. Anna was certain she did not want to choose that kind of life. She wanted to choose something else.

In the time of chimpanzees, she was a monkey.”

Greg, Kathy and Dean were her best friends. They chose to choose life. They wished to be everything their parents could not afford to be. Stuck in the 80’s, eager for achievements, having swallowed the universal dream of the typical success story. Ready to follow the signs and wear the suit of a pre-designed life.

I wish I could be like you,” she told them. She did not really mean it, although she wished she did. Without knowing it, Anna was the typical loser of the era. An era when the illusion that history had finally ended prevailed, when the seeds of doubt to the over-achievement schedule of the previous decade were sown, yet guilt was inevitable. What Anna really meant back then was: “I do not really want to be like you, but I feel guilty about it.”

You could be, if you tried harder,” they answered, all of them in their own way. That was their motto. They still believed in positive thinking.

Anna was the worst at her class. Under-achievement was the only way to resist the flow. Anna was not sure of the alternatives, yet she knew she could not go on with her studies. She was a part of a tribe who wanted to fight against what was already established, yet the world insisted they had nothing to fight against. They were the true rebels without a cause. Actually, the cause did exist, yet they could not easily discern it yet. It became obvious years later.

Things are gonna change, I can feel it.”

And they did change. Anna did not drop her studies after all. She pursued them and she’s now a lawyer. A loser nevertheless, according to the typical standards. She is a volunteer in a refugee center, fighting for the rights of some helpless people who truly lost all and hope for a better life in a new land. She barely makes a living, but she’s happy. Her world is meaningful while the rest of the world collapses. The loser doesn’t take it all, yet the loser knows how to smile in the face of disaster.

Her friends are now successful lawyers in big firms, living in a continuously diminishing luxury, raising children who will someday prove to be spoiled brats, burnt out by long hours of meaningless work, defending their rich clients.

Forces of evil in a bozo nightmare.”

Anna was the only one who chose life after all. The rest of them took themselves too seriously. Seemingly successful, they are now trapped in lives that don’t fit them. They chose conformity instead.

Greg committed suicide last night, after he got fired.

He hung himself with a guitar string.”

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