“Excuses are monuments of nothing”
but, baby, I tried (mini rant)
Imagine being so powerful your enemy can’t exist within 1,000 feet of your charge and not be shocked. Imagine? Imagine stepping out with armor. New, shining, strong. Unbreakable. Required, because your enemy never leaves home without tools for annihilation. Yet, you live. You learn from whence you came when your ancestors whisper from dark and murky waters. You’re baptized by their words; We been here before. We still exist through you. We call this undefeated, and we always win. Naturally. So you live. Panic interrupted to speak truth to revolution, a reminder, of sorts, for you, and you. We cannot be killed. We cannot be killed. We live and live and live. I live. You live, we live.
This was a poem I will call “The Physics of Death.” I wrote it yesterday, actually. Usually, usually, I don’t share poems till I sit on them for some months, or even years, but this is a rather rough draft of feelings, a message that’s been lingering in my spirit as a queer and trans person from tha south these past few weeks that finally made its way out of me and now to you. So perhaps one day I’ll share an edited version of it.
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This week’s initial plan was very different than this. I wanted to share the first installment of the new fanfic with y’all and, baby, I tried.
… and one more for the road.
My dad used to say, “Excuses are monuments of nothing.”
Which is true! Nothing but vague arrows pointing toward blurry reasoning that, when put into focus, can’t quite explain your current situation. Yet, still use them constantly. Like, look at me right now.
Anyway! More on excuses later, but I’d actually like to address a new pet peeve of mine brought on by yet another pestering case of what I’ll call PTE (Participation Trophy Energy). I know, I’m giving you fetch, but let’s make it happen.
Gone are the days of the relentless competitor. No more, “I didn’t come here to make friends.” No. PTE is very different.
First, I should note, I am relatively new to reality TV. I, like many of you, was welcomed into this chaotic world of semi-real drama at the peak of the pandemic, when my typical entertainment got bland and I felt inspired to switch things up with a little extra nonsense.
Now, PTE exists specifically within reality shows in which there is winner. You know, like the long-running Survivor or newer ones like The Circle on Netflix (or as my 3-year-old niece says, Netblix). I’ve most recently noticed PTE in two different shows. One with a cult following, and another that just came out a few weeks ago.
First, is in this albeit lackluster season of Drag Race. I cringe at the thought that the majority of this season’s drag performers, at one point in the show, have expressed some variation of, “I’m just glad to be here!” when the topic of winning comes up.
TikTok sensations and real-life twins Sugar and Spice both said some variation of, “My goal was to just have so much fun!”
Never once even addressing dreams of a Drag Race win, as if they knew from jump they could never.
(Like, true. But still.)
Then, “This whole competition I’ve been out of breath, now I can finally breath,” said talented Miami-based queen Malaysia Baby Doll Fox as she sashayed away.
Malaysia later claimed that her main goal on the show was, not to win, but to represent for Miami queens who don’t get the shine they deserve.
Endearing, thoughtful, but entirely besides the point.
Then more recently, on the 2nd season of Next in Fashion I reluctantly then eagerly binge watched, thinking it was the first season. After elimination, more than half of the show’s contestants claimed to simply be glad to be chosen for this opportunity. Opportunity for exposure, for growth, for the experience…but not to win! Only a few contestants were bold enough to admit that winning for them was their main goal.
And to be clear, these instances I’ve mentioned are not the only ones, just some of the most recent.
PTE a phenomenon, okay?!
Ironically, though, I am not big on competition…I know, I know.
I crumbled during childhood basketball games. My idea of “sport” is a nice, casual round of Scrabble with a few chill friends.
And yes, my ideal world has the least bit of competition in it—I’m talking anti-capitalism. Let’s barter, co-exist. Harmony and community, abounds.
Yet and still! When I fix my fingers to turn on a show in which a dozen hopefuls compete to win, I want the hopefuls to actually be…hopeful, and confident for a win! Just as I expect to see dramatic actors in a drama, or bakers in a bakery, I expect to see com-pet-i-tors in a competition! I don’t want to know who wins before the show’s over, simply by the level of drive in its contestants. Is that too much to ask?
Why, oh why, invest the time and energy into a competition show where your personality and likeness will be inevitably altered to fit a producer’s overarching story line with the sole goal of simply having said you participated?! Is that worth it?
Is it by design? Is this a new tactic by producers to motion towards a winner so the audience is more likely to galvanize behind them come the semi-finals? Is everyone actually extremely competitive, just every now and then a competitor slips in their confessional and says, “I’m just happy to be here,” and boop—there’s there story line? Or is it more that admitting a desire to win leaves one feeling far more vulnerable than a casual shrug claiming fun is all you came for?
Perhaps it is that overwheming demon, imposter syndrome, that possesses so many of us into overwheming, subordinate gratitude. So overwhelming that any remnants of competitive fire dissipate before the camera comes on?
I can empathize. It, imposter syndrome, along with many other reasons, is why I avoid competition at all. Though, I’ll admit, I’ll always be my worst competition and there’s no avoiding, well, myself. So, arguably, I’m quite competitive, after all.
I hoped you enjoyed this very unserious rant.
And you better believe I want to know if you agree (or disagree, which—why? Do tell.) Hit me up. As usual, you’re welcome to respond directly to this email, or click the button below so others can see your comments.
Thanks for reading. Talk soon!
I like this poem a lot!
I've never liked when people demonize excuses. They're acting as though the excuse came before the action rather than the other way around. Excuses just state reality: if I could've I would've but I couldn't.