If you are a high schooler, or often in the vicinity of high schoolers, odds are you’ve heard the phrase, “I’m gonna take the L” within the past few months.
But what does it really mean to “take the L?”
Simply put, taking the L means taking the loss.
“Taking the L means to take a loss and be fully accepting of it,” clarifies senior Joe Witkowski.
Everyone has different limits and expectations for themselves- therefore, it is no surprise that people have different ideas on what it means to take a loss, and what a loss is. Some different types of L’s include the:
Jesus take the wheel: I have done the most I have possibly can and now I am letting destiny determine what will happen.
Example: If someone has an extremely difficult test, they may study their hardest but, eventually, they will have to stop studying. They may text their friend around 10 the night before and say, “I’ve studying for four hours, now I’m taking the L.”
Here goes nothing: Wow, I have truly let this slip through the cracks. There is no time to fix this now, so I will take the L. Whatever happens, happens.
Example: If someone completely forgets about a project until the morning of its due date. They have no choice but to take the L and accept docked off points for lateness.
Mental Health L: I am overworked and exhausted. I am prioritizing sleep over my grades and going to bed.
Example: “My L is choosing my personal comfort over my schoolwork. Like, if I don’t want to do something in school and I’m too comfortable to do it, I just won’t,” said Julia Caruso.
So, there appears to be a common theme. “Taking an L” is really just a sleek way to say “I am a failure.” It is a polished way of admitting defeat. When I say I am “taking an L,” I am saying, “Listen, I am not a pawn in this scheme of deadlines and tests. I am a winner, and I am such a winner I will own this failure.”
Of course, this is a completely delusional, self congratulatory way of thinking, but it helps. And, for all of you baby boomers getting ready to go on another tirade about the laziness of my generation- relax. People have been taking L’s forever.
We all still discuss the legendary “L” Napoleon Bonaparte took at the battle of Waterloo.
People have been failing forever- it’s just that this generation finally gave it a catchy name. You’re welcome.
There is a huge correlation between senior year and taking the L. In the first few months of senior year, seniors become shadows of their former selves.
They don’t know how many colleges they should apply to.
Their essay is not good enough.
They don’t know which teachers they should ask for a recommendation
FAFSA won’t cut them a break.
These are people who have pushed themselves through their 12 years of schooling. These almost-college students can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, but right before they can ease up, they have to push the hardest they’ve ever pushed.
Merrie Dyckman, senior, agrees that senior year results in an increased amount of L’s.
“Especially in the first few months of senior year, “ Dyckman explains, “because we have to apply to college and keep our grades up so we get into college.”
Clearly, the regular stresses of senior year combined with the stress of the application process result in many seniors taking the L.
Dyckman theorizes that the phrase helps alleviate a guilty conscience,
“I think it’s a way to use humor so I can make myself laugh instead of feeling guilty about giving up on an assignment”
Keep in mind, the people who are commonly using the phrase “taking the L” are usually taking very few L’s. Commonly, it is accomplished, high-achieving students who use this phrase. They broadcast their failure because, in all honesty, they don’t allow themselves to fail often.
More often than not, an “L” that a student claims to be taking is just giving up on one assignment while he or she tends to a plethora of other obligations.
I wish I had a snappy ending for this piece. I wish I could find a concise way to summarize how the phrase “taking an L” is not destroying America’s youth or indicating my generation’s laziness but rather showing how achievement-orientated we truly are, how we expect so much out ourselves that we label any shortcoming a failure that we need to somehow come to terms with.
But, I’m actually really tired, so I’ve decided to take the L.