Live Through This

Power Failures

Getting through life one disaster at a time.

Illustration by Kelly

Illustration by Kelly

Humans totally fail from time to time. And I don’t mean fail to win their soccer game or fail to remember their mom’s birthday—I’m talking about tripping on the sidewalk in front of someone you like, awkward flirting attempts that involve trying to bat your eyelashes but you just end up looking scary, or putting something in the microwave for 20 minutes instead of 20 seconds and almost setting house on fire—those epic fails that make you cringe to even remember them.

I have had many such failures in my life, so I’m really good at them. Failing is an art, and you can turn a failure into a victory if you see it in the right light. Let’s take a look at some commonly tragic fails you might experience, and talk about how to see them as wins, because life is hard enough.

Sustaining a Really Stupid Injury
Fail: Injuries are just infinitely stupid and probably the ultimate fail, because everyone can just look at you and clearly see that you FAILED at climbing out of a tree, skateboarding, or dancing. One time in gym I got spiked in the face with a volleyball while I was zoning out; it didn’t hurt too much, but I pretended I was in major pain to get out of class. And I did get out of class, but my acting was so good I got sent to the actual doctor’s office. WTF? That’s like a fail turned into a win turned into a bigger fail.
Win: Are injuries really failures, or just the ultimate badass battle scars? Nobody wants to get hurt and end up with a cast or major surgery, but a stupid injury can only add to your street cred. Actually, maybe you do want a cast—everyone can sign it and you’ll be mega popular.

Uh Oh Naked
Fail: I don’t know your life, but you’ll probably never be suddenly, unpredictably naked in public. It’s more realistic that you’ll have a nip slip, or your skirt will get stuck in your underwear after a trip to the bathroom, or you’ll climb onstage during a show by your favorite musician of all time and moon the entire audience. Being accidentally naked in public is almost always a fail. I have not only nip-slipped on many occasions, but have also played body shield to lots of friends experiencing sudden wardrobe malfunctions (like when your BFF’s boobs fall out in the middle of a wave pool at a Disney theme park). Even if everyone does want to see you naked (because you’re super hot, duh), you still want to control where and how that happens. Anything else is a fail.
Win: Skirt stuck in underwear? One boob out? Sounds like a new fashion statement to me, so just own it. Seriously—the key to making this fail a win is to just act confident and pretend that whatever you just did was intentional. Yeah, you totally meant for your boobs to fall out, of course. #fashion

Tripping in Public
Fail: We’ve all been there: You’re walking down the street in your clogs/sandals/platform Converse, and you trip. In front of everyone, and the Holy Ghost. Even if it’s just for the tiniest little second, tripping is not a good look.
Win: You’re just learning to spread your wings and fly, physically and metaphorically. OK, this one is a stretch—there really is no graceful way to recover from tripping. Like, what do you even do? Oh, yeah, I meant to almost sprain my ankle? But don’t beat yourself up—everybody does it, so you shouldn’t feel weird about it. Look around, smile, and keep strutting your stuff.

Getting Your Period Everywhere
Fail: If your period hasn’t surprised you at least once, here’s a gold star, for you are a person who has their shit together: You’ve probably been surprised by your period at least once—the first time you got it, most likely, and possibly many times after. I got my period a week after my bat mitzvah while I was watching Spider-Man 3 in a movie theater, and the fact that Spider-Man is forever associated with my monthly cycle is a fail. Basically, riding the crimson wave without the proper materials (tampon, pad, wrench) to tidy everything up is a faux pas all around.
Win: So you got blood all over your chair in class, or on your couch when you took a nap, or just literally anywhere because you’re a modern woman who goes places. Think of your bloodied happening as a work of impromptu feminist performance art—make sure to document everything in extreme detail, archive your tampons, and contact local galleries. BAM! Instant art star!

Talking to Your Crush and Messing It Up Because of Course You Did
Fail: Talking to people you like is hard unless you’re infinitely charming and have never, ever been insecure, which is a LIE. Who has never been insecure, or at least a little shy? Beyoncé? Fair enough—I bet Beyoncé has never felt weird talking to a crush. If you are not Beyoncé but instead a mere mortal, though, you have surely tried to flirt with someone but ended up talking about your favorite vegetable or, worse, been unable to speak at all because you were so nervous. You have failed at romance…forever!
Win: You did not fail at romance—you just weeded out the people who suck. If someone is into you, you can probably say a number of lame things and they’d still like you. If you try to talk to your crush and they end up making fun of you, yeah, it’s a blunder, but it’s also a red flag that they’re a douche.

Fail: This just in: Life is one big fail. You’re going to pick your nose and vom into someone’s lap and perform the Elaine Benes dance and do everything else that makes people realize that you’re a human being. You come equipped with embarrassing functions, but that’s totally natural, because nobody is perfect. We all slam into things and get nosebleeds and fart in front of one another. Even the coolest people have epic fails on the weekly.
Win: No matter how gross or idiotic you act, you’re still a unique and perfect li’l snowflake, farts and all. ♦


  • GabbyCat September 13th, 2013 7:34 PM

    Bloodied Happening = the best band name

  • andreakristina40572 September 13th, 2013 7:43 PM

    I think this article is honestly amazing, you have no idea how many times I’ve been utterly embarrassed, very well written and relatable. It’s nice to know that there’s a bright side and I’m not the only one.

    On another note, I submitted an article about a week ago to Rookie, I understand that you probably have dozens of submissions if not more, and I was told it might even take a couple weeks. Anyway, I was just writing this as a friendly reminder/gesture. Thanks, hope you guys get back at me soon, amazing work.♥

    • Danielle September 13th, 2013 7:59 PM

      Hi! We do get a lot of submissions, and we try our best to reply quickly, but we’re a tiny team and it sometimes takes a while. I promise that we’ll get back to you, even if I can’t promise when! :)

  • noaveragenerd September 13th, 2013 9:17 PM

    I definitely got hit in the face by a ball in gym class while I was zoning out. However, the ball was a basketball, and it did really hurt

    This is an excellent, honest article. I think everyone needs to read it.

  • Aftergloweyes September 13th, 2013 11:47 PM

    since we are sharing I thought Id tell you some of mine.

    Sustaining a really stupid injury,
    I was knocked unconscious for about 10 seconds when a boy at lunch kicked a soccer ball so hard it flew across the field and it landed smack bang on the top of my head. It was a freak accident, but sill sooooo embarrassing!.

    Uh Oh Naked,
    I was unlucky enough to inherit my sister’s old school uniforms when I was in primary school, all of which were too big on me. Its safe to say that you should NEVER jump rope with a loose skirt. Oh did I mention that the elastic in my underwear decided to snag that same day ! I believe counseling was provided for some classmates after that incident.

    Tripping in public
    CHECK *tick*
    Tripped up the stairs right next to my crush TWICE!!!

    Clutz Mcgee Yep that’s me

    Oh well at least I’m human

  • o-girl September 14th, 2013 12:59 AM

    Aw, this kind of reminds me of this time I was hanging out with these two girls that I really admire and that I think are really cool and I burped and was super embarrassed but they were so nice and aw I don’t know it kind of felt like I reached a new level of comfortable friendship with them (which I would usually say sarcastically but this is totally for real).

  • mayafairy September 14th, 2013 2:27 AM

    I love this article! I’ve had so many embarrassing things happen to me and it always feels like I’m the only one who’s ever experienced them. I’ve never considered looking at them as a “win” though, probably helpful for the future embarrassments to come!

  • Lillypod September 14th, 2013 3:13 AM

    in the school library working on a project, with LOADS of other, older kids around. I had new boots and the floor was super slick. I fell over on my butt, got up, fell over again, got up, FELL OVER ON MY BUTT AGAIN!! and the whole library was in hysterics.
    If anyone can beat that for tripping, please step forward

  • Sophie ❤ September 14th, 2013 6:47 AM

    Love these! I basically have a story for each and every one of the categories!

  • ItsKate September 14th, 2013 9:38 AM

    Great article! You have no idea how many times my period has embarrassed me. Just this summer I was hooking up with a guy and I randomly got my period without realizing it. It got ALL over his (expensive) pants. I cringe just thinking about it.

  • orthopedicsaddleshoes September 14th, 2013 9:39 AM

    Thank you Rookie for reading my mind once again.
    I had this History test today and had an epic fail (in one question, I answered that there was a parallel between the holocaust and the creation of the state of Israel in 1947 because arabs were killed in the holocaust – they were not, obviously – and then were displaced from the Palestine with the creation of Israel. I only noticed this faux pas as I was leaving the classroom). The worst part is that my History teacher expects a lot from me because I love History.
    I promise you guys, I’m not as dumb as I sound.

  • mariasnow September 14th, 2013 9:44 AM

    I was meeting my best friend and my parents at this restaurant that had outdoor seating. In order to get to the hostess, I had to make my way through a pitch-black parking lot with lots of pot-holes past the outdoor seating area. I wound up falling ass over elbows in front of a table of twelve and it was bad, I mean really bad. Two skinned elbows and I somehow even knocked my ponytail off-kilter. I was mortified. I decided to jump up as though I were totally fine and say, “I’m okay, I do all my own stunts!” with jazz hands since that whole table probably felt awkward for witnessing such an epic wipeout. Well, I said that and there was just silence as the entire table GLARED at me. I have no idea what their problem was, why they had no humanity, etc but I found myself blurting out, “oh you can all GO TO HELL!” and then I basically ran away to the hostess area on the other side of the restaurant.

    Of course when my family and BFF showed up, we were seated right next to that table who continued glaring at me until they left. When I explained the situation to my family and BFF, they ROARED with laughter which only made the other table glare harder. Seriously those people. Where are they from, NoFunland?

    • julalondon September 15th, 2013 8:24 AM

      Too many people on this earth are from NoFunland….

  • NotReallyChristian September 14th, 2013 11:49 AM

    This summer it was really hot, and seemed pretty calm weather-wise, so I headed out in a short skirt – to a ruined monastery, to do research, because such is my life. The monastery, however, was on top of a hill, and up there it was WIND CITY and my underwear, while cute, were not offering full coverage. It got to the point where there was literally not point trying to do anything about it, and the entire of Southern Ireland basically saw my arse. The moral of the story is: sometimes you just have to flash everyone if you want to get your shit done

  • dorkdynamite September 14th, 2013 12:03 PM

    I can relate to this so hard.
    I was going to ask my crush if he wanted to hang out with me, but all that came out was “do you like tin foil?”
    Needless to say that one didnt work out so well!

    • Cutesycreator aka Monica September 14th, 2013 3:02 PM

      I just burst out laughing at do you like tin foil :D

  • spudzine September 14th, 2013 3:40 PM

    LOL what an accurate portrait of my life. No seriously though…this is accurate. VERY accurate.

  • sophiethewitch September 15th, 2013 3:48 AM

    I say the weirdest things when I’m talking to people I like (romantically or just people I think are really cool and want to be friends with). One time I was talking to this girl and I said, with no context whatsoever, “so, are you a cyborg?” Seriously. It made sense in my head.

  • bookworm123 September 15th, 2013 11:35 AM

    I think I may have patented the “I totally meant to do that” trip fail around my friends. Tripping backwards in class, tripping into my mom’s office (complete with co-workers), off of a walkway…I just try to end with a flourish, and perhaps a small bow of appreciation if the situation permits. I may have almost died while walking, but I sure as hell stuck that landing.

  • Aurora September 15th, 2013 1:45 PM

    My face is such a basketball magnet… It’s unbelievable how many times I’ve been whacked in the head.

  • hellocatty September 15th, 2013 1:56 PM

    Is it bad that I’m *highly* comforted that all of this has happened to everyone else? Even though I *know* that it’s happened to everybody this still feels like a great exclusive club!

    (Although, we probably should get bonus points for admitting this!)

    Tripping in public is something everyone in my middle school associates with me. There literally wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t fall over something. Although there was this one magical day where I made it to the end of the day and I was ecstatic, I did a cross between a skip and a jump and then fell splat in the middle of the hallway–just as the bell rang and EVERYONE was converging to their lockers to go home.

  • Jenny.W September 15th, 2013 10:13 PM

    Unfortunate things happen all the time, but as long as we accept them, we can make life lemonade. Be positive, optimistic and fun. In China, a proverb used to say, “what you see is in your heart.” If we are always sanguine and cherish, then all things will turn good.

  • emlyb September 16th, 2013 3:46 PM

    i really needed this today omg
    basically i was doing french with my tutor and we were talking about something (verbs or tense or something) and then she gave me an example and i was like, “oh yeahhhhhh, like that song that goes ‘voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir’?” and then i started singing it because when i was younger MY fUCKING PARents told me it meant ‘will you dance with me tonight?’ (which made sense translated in my head) and then she didn’t say anything and then she said “i don’t think that means what you think it does. i don’t think that’s appropriate for a 14 year old to say” and i was so embarrassed because i literally had no idea what i’d just said so then after the lesson i looked it up and it fucking means “WILL YOU SLEEP WITH ME TONIGHT”
    (but luckily she’s pretty rad and she thought it was funny) (i think)

  • loonylizzy September 16th, 2013 7:49 PM

    knocked my GLASS JAR of TURPENTINE over in art class today and it shattered and got mineral spirits ALL OVER THE PLACE. if thats not a fail i don’t know what is

  • Haleyhaley2w September 16th, 2013 9:09 PM

    Hazel, I can seriously always relate to your articles. You get me, girl!!

  • Becky September 20th, 2013 4:03 PM

    I realized that my fly was undone today, and this totally made me feel better haha thanks

  • Lydia Jane October 2nd, 2013 10:24 PM

    Dear Hazel,
    This is the greatest thing ever. I feel so much less alone now that I’ve read this and all the comments. You rule my world.
    Much love,
    Lydia xx

  • barbroxursox October 4th, 2013 8:57 PM

    Oh my god, this is perfect. Just this week I have: farted in front of my new roommates, tripped (which I don’t think is much of a big deal), and FELL DOWN THE STAIRS in my chemistry class and hurt my knee. That was the worst, yo. It was all swollen and I was wearing tight jeans… I just sat through the hour-long class acting normal while inside I was IN SO MUCH PAIN!! I thought only like 1 or 2 people saw me, but alas, more did. Oh well. I have a gnarly bruise to show people now! And even though we always think something is super embarrassing and remember it for the rest of our lives, for realsies nobody else actually thinks you’re a loser for making a common mistake and nobody remembers it a few days later.