Persistence and Failure

Well. It’s a good thing I wasn’t invested in the outcome of those phone interviews I had last week, because the outcome consisted of two you-suck, piss-off emails this week. But I don’t care. I wasn’t invested.

Even though I wasn’t invested, I feel like shit. Don’t know why that is.

This morning I find that not only can I not make the to-do list I still need to make before I can get anything done, I can’t even do my usual time-wasting things. I can’t scroll through Facebook. I can’t have pointless arguments with idiots on Discus comment boards. And I cannot stand the thought of scanning the job boards one more freaking time. Eff you, Craigslist and all the rest. Eff off.

Recently someone quoted Calvin Coolidge, of all people, at me. He said:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

 Yeah, eff you, Calvin. Persistence has done nothing to solve my problems. Not this one and not any other problem, either. Your life must have been simple if you think persistence is all that.

While looking up the wording of that stupid sentiment, I found a whole bunch of similar pablum.

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.

                                                   -John Quincy Adams

All of you dead presidents need to stfu.

Never, never, never, never give up.

                                                   -Winston Churchill

Succinct, if not especially helpful.

So I went looking for some quotes from women who might “get” my life a little better.

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.

                                                     -Harper Lee

Um. Moving on.

Oh. Not moving on. I scrolled and scrolled but the page of quotes about persistence has no other women on it. Maybe women know better than to spout bullshit like that.

Later I have a lunch date with some friends I had back before I became a worthless excuse for a human being. Hopefully they won’t notice.


28 thoughts on “Persistence and Failure

  1. Well, I was going to make some smart-ass remark about how *at least* women got the vote under Calvin Coolidge… he had that going for him! But then I realized it was under Woodrow Wilson. Good thing I’m a historian!!
    Enjoy your lunch.

  2. Calvin Coolidge. That’s hilarious.

    Weren’t the Adams related to the Bushes? Clearly you have uncovered a long family legacy of hypnotizing the masses with ‘work hard and get ahead’ bullshit. 😉

  3. This is not good. This is not good at *all*. Don’t you care about being an inspiration to those of us who are still just thinking about finding a job, and not even really trying just yet? What about THAT?? Also, I want to remind you that I’m enduring a steady stream of rejections, a near-constant stack of emails in my inbox advising me that I’m not wanted. Also, I’m a woman. With those credentials, I’m going to try to craft a little persistence wisdom for you, from someone who “gets” your life:

    It sucks to keep trying, but it sucks even more to stop trying, because what are you going to do THEN? You’re going to be an old lady one day with grown kids and maybe even grandkids, one way or the other. You might as well fill up the meantime trying to make life more interesting.

    • Yeah, I get that wisdom. You know I get that wisdom. Maybe the more interesting thing in the meantime should be to take up knitting or some godfuckingawful thing like that with which I might conceivably have some success.

          • the thing is, knitting is a little like humming a happy tune or eating family-sized bags of potato chips. it’s not something you do, really. it’s something you do WHILE you’re doing something else.

              • I’m just suggesting maybe don’t pin all your hopes for happiness on knitting. I mean, maybe. But I’m not really seeing it. I think you need to start getting job interviews through contacts and/or nepotism. I think your chances might be better that way.

                • Sadly, that approach has failed me as well. Or rather, I apparently suck too much to get hired even with unfair, contact-related or nepotistic advantages. Knitting won’t make me happy. It’s just something to do with all the hours between children and death.

                  • oh my.

                    you are in a bad way. if i were in seattle right now I’d suggest we get together, share a bottle of wine and make fun of mutual acquaintances. But since i’m not in seattle and we have no mutual acquaintances to ridicule, I’ll just say YOU DON’T SUCK.

                    hmm. it seems like a small response, in comparison with the wine and the ridicule.

                    what else might make you feel better……maybe failure quotes instead of persistence quotes? writers are really big on failure quotes. writers fail ALL THE TIME. Like, constantly. It’s awesome. Let me know if you want some failure quotes.

                    • failures are signposts on the road to achievement. C.S. Lewis. It’s fine to celebrate success but more important to heed the lessons of failure. Bill Gates. Remember that failure is an event, not a person. Zig Ziglar. If you’re not failing, you’re not innovating. (won’t tell you who said that one). Our best successes often come after our greatest disappointments. Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. The season of failure is the best season for sowing the seeds of success.

                      OH! George Eliot: There is only one failure in life possible, and that is not to be true to the best one knows. (and she was a writer, writing clunky sentences like that).

                    • no no i don’t ridicule FRIENDS. just random mutual acquaintances and only when I feel really bad about myself and need to make myself feel better by knocking down other people. it’s a character flaw.

  4. I did a report on Calvin Coolidge in 3rd grade. Riveting.

    So I think the universe is pushing you to take a new approach. You learned how to build your own website, you’re a pro at finding funding, and you’re passionate about many things. Upstart non-profit. Do it. (If not for you, then for good ol’ Cal Coolio.)

  5. My favorite quote regarding persistence IS from a woman:
    if you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to be a HORRIBLE WARNING.
    HA HA HA HA!

    Okay, i don’t know if you are the frame of mind to find that as hilarious as I do, but I guess the thing is not everyone succeeds at what they try and do. Ultimately, does ANYONE ever actually succeed? We all die at the end. We will all be forgotten. These things are probably why religion is so popular – if you can believe all the little every day things you do have meaning because they further your god’s purpose then it’s much easier to avoid despair when the big things don’t work out. Not that religious folks don’t get in a funk too, of course…)

    You do have some marvelous things in your life that you have succeeded at (TERRIBLE SENTENCE – please correct my grammar!!): your marriage and the genes you have bequeathed to the next generation (AKA: High Quality Children Who Will be Worthwhile Citizens Of This World). Those are pretty marvelous things to have built/made/guided/grown! I know it’s not exactly enough, but it’s nice to fall back on, right?

    Well, I don’t know if you want to be cheered up here, but know that you have friends over the internets who think you are quite amazing!

      • He must want me to do that too, because that’s what I did this evening. The idea, of course, being that there can somehow be beauty and meaning in all the mundane acts of every day life when performed in a certain context.

        Well, just know that you have an open invitation to unload my dishwasher if you need to find MORE meaning in your life. It seems to need unloading more often than I have the desire to do it, that’s for sure and, charitable person that I am, I am willing to share that deeply meaningful experience with any and all who need it!

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