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February 1, 2014

A Word of Advice: Don't get mad, get even

The Daily Star

---- — Failure and rejection are signs taken in by the modern human consciousness as those of nothing but that — failure. 

The losing team doesn’t get the big trophy, and the consolation ribbons given out to the losing team can often feel like more of a slap in the face than an award. 

 However, with that failure also comes reflection and contemplation. “Why did I lose?” “What did I do wrong to give me these terrible feelings?”

Following this, for many, comes anger; However I’m here to reinforce a famous quote many have said, most famously by Joseph Kennedy: “Don’t get mad, get even.”

Anger is similar to grief in that it can lead into several of the same negative emotions; most notably pity, particularly of self. Self-pity is an emotion that typically leads to stagnation, if anything; it’s almost a complacence and acceptance. In some cases, it’s almost an embracing of incompetence, so it’s best avoided in reaction to any sort of defeat, or at least be limited. 

The most important thing to take away from a blunder is drive — motivation to do better the next time while still maintaining the belief that that’s achievable. And to do this, confidence is necessary. 

Confidence is a safety net that can be relied on when things don’t go your way, because you still retain the feeling within yourself that you can achieve what you set out to do, given the right amount of work is put into something. Confidence it what helps you get over your anger, sadness and frustration, and springboards you into making up for your loss. 

This is where the “getting even” of the mentioned quote comes in.

When beaten by an adversary, whether it be a group or an individual, “getting back at them” should be the ultimate goal from the get-go. Ways of doing this all vary by situation, though. In some situations, this is incredibly simple, such as a sports contest where you might just train harder than the other team to beat the team the next game. However, being rejected by a merit-based organization or something along those lines isn’t as simple as “doing better next time.”  This is typically when you have to question if failure is truly defeat — if not accomplishing what you set out to do really means anything in the big picture of things. 

Oftentimes things achievable in group organizations can be done better and more efficiently alone or in a group you assemble, and that in itself can be more impressive to others than simply tagging along to a big group event. 

Taking the initiative and starting your own groups and movements can be just as productive as joining a pre-existing one while showing your community that you can be a leader and take charge.

It’s important to note that “getting even” doesn’t directly translate to “getting revenge,” especially in personal conflicts. To get even with a person isn’t to harm him or her, but to better yourself to a point of being on a level above that person. All you can do in a person-to-person “defeat” is to continue making strides forward in your life’s progress and keep your head high and not to fall. “Success is the best revenge” is a good quote for this situation.

Failure is a prime motivator for people and always has been throughout history. Many people doubted the likes of Albert Einstein when he was a child, many saying there was no potential for him, but now he’s one of the most well-known names in all of history. So one battle lost is in no way indicative of the tide of war that is human life, and with that, I encourage you all to push on and take your losses as inspiration and not a sign to quit.

Austin Czechowski is a junior at Cobleskill-Richmondville High School. Would you like A Word of Advice from him? Send him an email at, or send him a letter to “Teen Talk: A Word of Advice,” C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at