Failing Hard

by genspecial

It’s been some time since our last post, but little has changed for we who suffer from “specialness”–except perhaps that the world is catching up.

One such revelation that, like “Specialness,” did not spread instantly–if it did admittedly spread easily.

Many of you have no doubt seen this very late-to-the-game piece from the New York Times about colleges who are finally trying to cushion the blow for those who enter and realize they are not as special as life has led them to believe.  To note, this apt description by Smith student Cai Sherley,

We all came from high schools where we were all the exception to the rule — we were kind of special in some way, or people told us that…So you get here and of course you want to recreate that, but here, everybody’s special. So nobody is special.

To which we at Nothing Special reply, “Duh!”  In truth we are thrilled that the world is catching on to this phenomenon we isolated and named at the beginning of the decade, and that it’s doing so at a faster rate than for other historic revelations, such as the heliocentric model, natural selection, and squeeze cheese.  We are glad that Smith College, during final exam period, created a projected screen of public failures for all to see, including this one from a literature and American studies major,

“I drafted a poem entitled ‘Chocolate Caramels’…[which] has been rejected by 21 journals … so far.”

At the same time we totally understand why this poem has been rejected 21 times, as it’s truly a terrible title for a poem.

by Mark Anderson, from

Smith’s initiative, called “Failing Well” and clearly inspired by OUR VERY FIRST ENTRY, in which we coined the term “Fearless failures,” actually awards its students, upon joining, a “Certificate of Failure,” which declares:

You are hereby authorized to screw up, bomb or fail at one or more relationships, hookups, friendships, texts, exams, extracurriculars or any other choices associated with college … and still be a totally worthy, utterly excellent human.

We at “Nothing Special” are still not sure we entirely agree with this.  We are extremely protective of our status as “non-failers,” especially in areas like extracurriculars which we so carefully accumulated in high school in order to get into college, college in order to continue to impress people, and after college because we are still trying to impress God-knows-who that we are deeply committed to freeing Richard Gere from letter writing campaigns tested on animals.

Still, we can’t fault Smith and other colleges for trying to convince students that there’s more to life than being a stand out, even if we’re still not sure exactly what that is.