In screenwriting, the midpoint reversal is when the plot changes dramatically. If your movie has a down-ending, it's usually some sense of false success. If your movie has an up-ending, it's usually some sort of downfall that leads to the (incorrect) feeling that all hope is lost.
Today, a week out from spring break, I am having a SINISTER Monday. I failed to realize I was on call for a class with like 80 people in it, got called on, panicked, and then had no idea what was going on when I eventually came on screen. I answered everything wrong and stupidly. I could FEEL my dear professor's disappointment in me. It was palpable. I could see folks I barely know from Lawyering or Intro or the cafeteria back when we used to have a cafeteria silently judging me and thinking, what on earth is this girl doing here? Why did she even bother trying?
It's a good question. I wasted everyone's time. I should've just hid behind Video Off and pretended to have an emergency.
One time in seventh grade I was failing English by the time midterm grades came out. It's the only time I've ever seen an F written on something that was mine. Mr. Leaver had symbolically scrawled this F in red pen. What's worse, he called my house and left a message on our family answering machine (here is where I point out how old I am) and the LOOK MY FATHER GAVE ME when he heard "your daughter is currently failing English" is one I will never forget because it wasn't anger so much as disappointment.
The reason I was failing was two-fold: 1) I might have peaked socially in seventh grade. I was obsessed with boys, and they seemed to like me too; as such I was not at all focused on doing the weekly homework assignments for whatever stupid book we were reading (it was Bearstone by Will Hobbs... this is why my brain has no room left to remember actual useful information). 2) I thought weekly homework assignments were a waste of my time and I had never failed anything in my life, so I thought I was safe.
Anyway, that night of the phone call I said nothing. I silently went upstairs and proceeded to complete something like six hours' worth of homework in one sitting. I put the assignments on Mr. Leaver's desk the next morning--again, silently, with the attitude that can only be accomplished by seventh grade girls--and I've never officially failed since.
These days, I find it more difficult to turn my failures into opportunities. Seventh grade me had a very "play like a champion" mindset. But now, as a grownup, there's the crippling anxiety and depression: I tend to shut down and continue failing as opposed to turning stuff around for myself. I still don't make excuses; I blame myself, but this is how I end up in a circle of failure. I feel bad for failing, and then I fail more.
When Dan Harmon explains screenwriting, he explains the midpoint of the hero's journey like this:
In Die Hard, John McClaine, having run over broken glass, is sitting in a bathroom, soaking his bloody feet in the sink. It is at this moment that he finally realizes the true extent of his love for his wife, and what he's been doing wrong in their marriage. He has been too stubborn. He uses his walkie talkie, acquired in step (4), to give a message to his wife through his benevolent, happily married, gun-shy counterpart: "She's heard me say 'I love you' a thousand times...but she's never heard me say I'm sorry."
So today, I am trying to harness the spirit of the midpoint reversal. I am trying to remember that, although law school is a very specific beast, it's actually quite cool that I even made it this far. But I am also reminding myself that this is not a screenplay. It's not written. I still have control over the outcome. And for anyone who is feeling the weight of the semester, the stress of finding a job, or the reality that we are about to finish year one of a global pandemic: (1) take a deep breath, (2) unclench your jaw, (3) relax your shoulders. All hope is not lost. 🍻