The Sore Loser Within Us

By Nicole Duma

Playing a game and losing sucks. No one likes losing. But do you know what people dislike even more? – a sore loser. AND THAT is what most of us are.

sore loser  noun

: a person who becomes very upset or angry when he or she loses a game, contest, etc.

If there is any lesson that life loves teaching, it’s that you won’t win everyday. It just doesn’t happen. We apparently have to take an L here and there. Sometimes we reel them in consecutively – one after the other. But alas – no one can escape loss. It’s an arena everyone gets to play in.

The biggest loss we often feel – even though we don’t talk about it – is the loss of our dreams.

Let’s look at Tony. He grew up with this amazing dream of one day conquering the world as the owner of Google’s competition. He was going to name it Click! or something. His dream is valid right? I mean, all six year olds have dreams of becoming doctors, well known celebrities like Rihanna, video game designers, lawyers, the next Picasso and Bill Gates, architects, archaeologists…the list is endless.

Unfortunately, life had something else in store for Tony – a bucket load of reality. He failed his  A level examinations and couldn’t qualify for the degree programme he needed to reach his goal. His dream has since become a distant memory and he dwells on this loss daily as he goes to his day job at a local fast food company.

Loss is a natural part of the game or contest that is life. Tony has to take this L, pucker up and move on right?

This is easier said than done and unfortunately, it is in realizing this loss that he ignited the sore loser within him. How? – by going halfway through the grieving process that comes with this kind of loss.  He didn’t go through the entire five stages of grief like we all should.

{the five stages of grief}

1 denial noun

: refusing to admit the truth or reality of something unpleasant

When we lose at this game called life the first thing we do is to give into our defense system and deny the whole thing. Tony, just after he received his results, told himself, ‘this is not happening’. But that was only a temporary way of dealing with the situation. He eventually started procrastinating when he had to make decisions about his future and even indulged in  alcoholism, drug abuse and endless partying, just to get the loss of  his dream out of his head.

2 anger noun

: a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism

When faced with the pain of our loss we become frustrated, helpless and eventually angry. We get mad at ourselves for failing to achieve goals we set ourselves. More often than not, we direct our anger to other people, a higher power or life in general. Tony blamed himself for wasting time ‘dreaming too big’.  He blamed his parents for not being strict enough and allowing him to slack. He even believed God was just being unfair to him. On other days, if you ask him how he’s doing, he simply tells you – in a pessimistic tone – that life is unrelenting in its efforts to break us down.

3 bargain verb

: to negotiate over the terms of a purchase, agreement, or contract

We start bargaining in the third stage. Like Tony, this is where we think of all the preventative measures we could’ve taken. We dwell a bit much on the mistakes of the past, ‘If only I’, ‘I should’ve’. There’s a Shona proverb that says, “Dai ndakaziva haitungamirire”. This means that wishing you knew better in the past doesn’t change a thing. So basically, we waste time on the unchangeable. Tony compares himself to others. He over-thinks and worries about almost everything. He is basically missing out on life.

4 depression noun

:a mood disorder that is marked by varying degrees of sadness, despair, and loneliness and that is typically accompanied by inactivity, guilt, loss of concentration, social withdrawal, sleep disturbances, and sometimes suicidal tendencies

Eventually we fall into the fourth stage of grief – depression. A wave of sadness sets in us as we begin to understand the loss and its effect on our lives. My dream is gone. I’m stuck. I’ll never be the person I’ve been dreaming of becoming all these years. Our motivation and energy is reduced because – what’s the point. Tony of late is stuck at this stage just like most of us. To make it worse, he’s turned to increased alcohol and drug use. He is high three quarters of the time.

Tony is just a reflection of us. We, like him, fight against or avoid reality. Just like that guy who lost a game (loss of dreams) – contested the results (denial) – went ballistic (anger) – asked for a rematch (bargained) and sulked when the verdict was given (depression). He was out here trying to prove he won despite the reality that he lost – embarrassing! – what a sore loser.

The only way to emerge victorious after taking an L is by completing the grief course. We need to garner the strength to move on to the last stage and accept reality as it is.

5 acceptance  noun

: the process of embracing something without judgment and without trying to change it

Acceptance is where you deal with the reality of your loss. You’re still young. You still have some years to go. You have to live the life you desire – considering you only get one shot at it. Although Tony still feels sad, he is capable of moving forward with his life. He should allow himself to be vulnerable and tolerate his emotions. Likewise, we should be present in the moment. Work on what drives us and brings us joy.

Grief brain affects our memory, concentration and cognition. Our very many good memories are diluted by the bad times that lasted two seconds. Like Tony, our concentration fails and we thus remain content where we are, failing to dream and take bold steps that could take our lives from 0 to 100. What’s worse is our cognitive function is also clouded as we fail to see any light in the future.

Don’t allow one bad season in your life to dictate the rest of it. Remember, YOLO right? Who said dreams can’t be rejuvenated? Who said you and your huge brain power cannot conjure up a new dream? Who said the next dream isn’t the one? This is a world full of endless possibilities. It’s hard to imagine but Michael Jordan, who is arguably the greatest basketball player ever, was once cut from his highschool team. If he could pick himself up, why can’t you? Take this L, move on and prepare yourself for your biggest Win.


This is the first step in freeing yourself from the bondage of being 

The UnBothered Youth


4 May, 2023