That journey has taught me that while it’s easy to see the value of success in winning something that you’ve tried for, tremendous benefits also come from the work involved in losing. Because there is value in fighting for something important to you, even when the outcome is not what you hoped it would be.
Former Texas state senator Wendy Davis made national headlines in 2013 when she staged a 13-hour filibuster to defend abortion rights. On Tuesday, Lenny Letter, Lena Dunham's newsletter, included an essay from Davis, a Democrat, about her struggle with losing her bid for Texas governor just over a year ago. Davis' letter is raw and honest — it's titled "I Fucking Hate to Lose." The politician's powerful letter shows that it's okay to be disappointed in loss, but you also can't let it define you. Davis explains that losing the gubernatorial race helped her realize what's most important in life. She starts by explaining how she felt the morning after losing the race in 2014, saying she "suffered the dull thud of a headache and the beginnings of a heartache that was just starting to sink in." For anyone who's lost any election, even if it was in a school organization or a sports team, her experience is relatable. Davis knows that losing sucks, and she acknowledges that you're allowed to be sad or angry. When she first greeted her gubernatorial campaign staffers after the election, she writes, the first thing she said was, "I fucking hate to lose." The former lawmaker explains that she'd been raised with a competitive nature as a child, with her father always pushing her to do her best. She credits this competitive spirit with helping pull herself and her daughter out of a trailer and put herself through Harvard Law School.
For Davis, the benefits of losing extend farther than her gubernatorial race. Despite her best efforts in the Texas senate filibuster, the state's governor later signed the anti-abortion bill. But Davis still stood up for what she believed in, even if the rest of the legislators didn't agree with her. Davis writes that in her speech to her campaign team, she focused on all they had accomplished and the people they had inspired. Even though she didn't win, she and her team members were fighting for what they thought was right, and she encouraged them to keep doing so, even when she wasn't involved. "I asked them to own their courage and told them that the only way we will have failed is if we give up and stop trying," she writes. This letter makes an important point: Just because you might not achieve the outcome you hoped for doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Fighting for what you believe in — whether that means getting involved with a local activism group or voting in the off-year elections — may not always be successful, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep it up. Wendy Davis certainly hasn't.