I Was a Loser


I wasn’t the most popular kid in school.

I wasn’t a jock, and I thought I was much funnier and cooler than I was.

But on the other hand, I was just your typical hormonal-driven all-American junior higher. Think Kevin Arnold, but slightly less stylish and a little more annoying.

Or paint me blue and call me Skeeter Valentine.

I’ll never forget the episode in my eighth-grade life that involved cartoons and science.

The students in each science class would vote for the top 5 best displays to go on to be showcased in front of the entire school, then onto district finals. 

Even though there wasn’t a scientific bone in my body, everything in me screamed out for recognition and fame. After all, when you’re famous, you have friends, and when you have friends, you’re popular.

It took me days to come up with what my project would be, and when I figured it out, I was totally and absolutley committed to winning the contest.

While everyone else was building vinegar volcanoes and styrofoam solar systems, I was going to make a cartoon movie. My project was about the science of cartoons, and how they move.

My teacher loved the idea, and rooted for me the whole way. It hadn’t come out yet, but she was as supportive as the teacher in October Sky. 

Inspired by my hero, Walt Disney, I set out to make a cartoon movie about a dog who falls asleep  dreaming of food. When she wakes up in the rain, she sets off looking for real food. I spent weeks on this project, decorating my trifold poster board with all of my cartoon characters I had spent years creating.

I even glued those paper-springs behind them making them pop up from the board.

And the coolest part was that I made a 5-minute behind-the-scenes video set to Van Halen’s “Humans Being”.

I mean, no one else made a video.

This science project was my crowning achievement and the purpose of my existence.

It was to be my magnum opus.

The classroom exploded with applause the day I showed them my videos, and I was sure to win the contest and move on to the school-wide competition.

Steven Spielberg and John Lasseter would have fought over me for my immediate employment.

But come voting day, I wasn’t even a finalist. I had lost to the less creative, more popular kids in the classroom. I’ll never forget the apologetic look my teacher gave me. I wonder if she herself had been stung by classroom politics in her youth.

The sting hurt. It hurt to be defined by characteristics that I would grow to resent. It hurt to see lesser people get ahead because of clout.

There’s a lesson to be found in all of this. And honestly, I’ve yet to discover what it is.

Maybe it’s that Jesus doesn’t play classroom politics. But that’s cheesy.

Maybe the lesson is, I should have secured votes before the election.  But that’s a bit shady.

Or maybe the lesson is as simple as this:

Even though I may not have been the most popular, best-looking kid in school, and even though I wasn’t an athlete or talented in things that were deemed “cool”, and I didn’t have the greatest fashion sense or the best table-manners, the loser still can get the girl in the end, and win.

Big time.

Happy five-year anniversary, Sarabeth. I love you!


Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

51 thoughts on “I Was a Loser

  1. Thanks for sharing that. It’s about a lot more than winning – the journey and the process, and I’m sure you carried that experience on to other efforts you did. Like you said, you’ll never forget that.


  2. First, let me say I love “Humans Being” 🙂
    Second, congrats on getting the girl. In the end, that’s the big win. I wish you two the best on adopting. I’ve been a father for twenty months and I’ve been grateful to God for every, single moment of it. You will be too!


  3. Nice moral but I think in the end your lesson is we call all be winners at life. School is a brutal place at times. One reason I hate politics so because they are the same in many ways. But ultimately does school matter? Does being popular or recognized really matter in the end? I think not because those who matter (like your wife and someday soon your son) they see your worth and they recognize you for who you are. The real lesson to being a winner in life is seeing yourself how those who really matter see you. See ourself in your wifes eyes and you will see the man she respects and loves. 🙂


  4. Yes, you win. Sometimes it takes decades for everything to even out. Less stylish and more annoying than Kevin Arnold. Heck, I always wanted to think that he got Winnie to go to the senior prom with him after the show ended.


  5. Loved your post. I was also considered an outcast with a handful of close friends. I got overlooked a lot because I wasn’t willing to give up who I was to fit in with the “it” crowd. Now, stepping into the world of writing/becoming an author I almost feel like I’m stepping back into high school. There are the cool “kids” (people with a lot of clout/connections) and the “kids” who get overlooked even though they have just as much talent or more. I guess that is just the way life works and it is our job to fine a happy place inside of the chaos. My happy place is with my best friend/husband of 11yrs. Best of luck on the adoption/fostering process. I look forward to seeing more of your posts. If you’ve ever got some free time, come by and visit my blog and leave some comments and/or feedback/suggestions. I could really use it!


  6. Great post and testimony.

    The lessons learned from this experience will only give you more compassion for your journey ahead. The ones the Lord will be sending your way may have also experienced some of those very same trials in their lives.

    You and Sarabeth will be examples of “winners” in life, but more important, the Lord.


  7. Great post. We don’t always get the acknowledgment or accolades we deserve due to politics but I have learnt to set my own standard (as long as it is in line with the word of God) and count the validations of others as a bonus. You and your wife are lovely together, happy anniversary and may the love you felt for each other on your wedding day stay evergreen. Amen


  8. But you obviously did win in the end, not only your love for Sarabeth, but a belief and love in yourself which is what your truth on this journey is all about. Loser is but a perception that we create of ourselves. That has been left behind a long, long time ago. You are now on a path of beauty and love with your adoption. May it bring you the blessings that it creates. Namaste


      1. I’d have to ask my parents from home to dig through all my home movies, and I’m not even sure they have a VHS anymore. It’d be quite a challenge to find it, but maybe someday…


    1. I really am! I may not have the video or the poster board, but I can see it all in my head as clear as though it were in front of me.


  9. your story is really inspiring.. you were never a loser, i think you were just a unique young lad who wanted to be different….. Happy anniversary.. 🙂


  10. nice post – and happy anniversary – also – from what I can see, I really like Sarabeth’s jacket – with that large, side collar and vertical buckle (?) – and well, maybe I just have coats on my mind because I just read a fun post about a lady getting a Navy style pea coat on sale – either way, cute coat – and beautiful couple!


      1. really??? Victori’s secret??? just kind of surprised because in my mind I associate that store as so horrible – I am better now than I was a few years ago when I was really mad – I was really angry with stores like that because I had two young sons that were getting inundated by soft pron. – V.S. was the worst – for the so called “soft porn” they flood malls with in those wall sized ads – and then – so many American households allow their magazines into their homes with no problem at all – there the ads just sit – with “almost completely” naked women – on coffee tables and kitchen counters – and it gets brushed off – and mistaken for beauty. I remember a pastor in 2001 also noting how it was a stumbling block for him and he asked his wife to not get it anymore, but it can pollute women too.

        Anyhow, at a young age, my boys learned how to “bounce” Victoria Secret ads while walking through the mall -(for those that do not know, bouncing is the term from a famous book – and it just refers to turning away from certain seductive images – instead of staring and soaking them up and letting them stain (or excite) the mind – one bounces by turning the head away – and when people bounce instead of soaking in the image – they protect their mind from what the world says is beauty – and many say it helps their intimacy with their spouse because the visual diet is important too!!! We watch what we eat – we should watch what we allow in our mind….

        The little images taken in through the eyes have a rippling effect! Now grant it, this company does have some WELL MADE items – and obviously cute stuff like that jacket – but out of principle I will NEVER support a store that has such un-wholesome ways of marketing –
        just something to think about…

        oh, and recently there was a great story about a former VS angel – who shares her wake-up call to the kind of marketing they use – and she even notes that her pics were airbrushed and altered – adding to the assault here.



  11. Spoken like a true Loser….the kind we can aspire to be. One who knows what it is like to put your heart and soul into something that you are proud of in it’s own right.

    Have you ever seen the list of Abe Lincoln’s failures before he became one of the best presidents in our history?

    From one loser to another, keep on my brothah. You can only lose so many.


  12. Thanks for the nice reply with the V.S. comment I left – 🙂 and I actually think that store may have some conservative items and modest lines (along with some great winter coats – lol), but it is their marketing part that bugs me –
    anyhow, peace to you and the Mrs.!!


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