How to Be a Failure (Part X)

Warning: contains pictures of boobs

Annie Trevaskis
3 min readMay 24, 2023


Photo of a red xylophone
Photo by Méline Waxx: on

It took me a while to think of any words beginning with X, let alone things I have failed at. But the holy thesaurus came to the rescue, and I have come up with the following:

Handwritten list that reads: X-Box, Xiphoid process (location) Xerox machine, X-rays, Xenophobes.
It turns out I have failed at more than one X thing. Photo by author

Look at that. I can go five times around the alphabet before I run out of X failures. By which time, I shall probably have failed at some more.


I bet you are thinking that it must be impossible to fail at X-rays unless you are a radiographer. I mean, having an X-ray is quite a passive experience, isn’t it? Wrong. The people in charge tend to get quite strict with their instructions on how to position yourself for an X-ray. And then there’s the keeping still part.

Dental ones are the worst: they stuff a hard, sharp thing in your mouth and ask you to bite down so that the edges are cutting into you, and then they expect you to keep still while they run out of the room as if there might be an explosion or something. It’s very hard to keep still when you are (a) terrified there might be an explosion, (b) gagging, or (c)[cue one deeply buried memory that I have dredged up, especially for you] throwing up.

Photograph of a dentist pointing to an X-ray of teeth
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on

I am probably the only person in the history of people who needs to be knocked out cold with anaesthetic just so they can get a decent X-ray of an impacted wisdom tooth. It doesn’t half push the cost up, I can tell you.

X-rays (Continued)

My most humiliating X-ray failure happened decades ago, and I have no idea if they have improved the machines since then. Back in the 1980s, if you needed a mammogram, they made you stand topless in front of a giant metal thing with adjustable steel shelves that were freezing cold and, how can I put it, as hard as steel. They asked you to position your boobs (one at a time) between the two shelves, which they then adjusted in an attempt to…



Annie Trevaskis

I came, I wrote, I conquered. That last bit might not be true, but at least I am putting up a good fight.