They Told Us the Only Thing That Matters Is Being Number One
I sometimes think of myself as a failed experiment. My parents hoped I’d be valedictorian of everything, but my college GPA was a dismal 3.2, and I’m convinced I only ended up in AP Calculus because of a clerical error. (I have the same last name as someone who really was AP-Calculus-qualified.)
I really only participated in one high school sport, and I only earned my varsity letter after three years on junior varsity because the coach took pity on me.
It’s easy to say now that there’s not much I excelled in and feel okay about it, but back then, it was labeled as — and felt like — dramatic, total failure.
“It’s pointless if you don’t win,” was the message I got, and since I never won at anything, maybe everything felt pointless. (Oh, there were a few wins, I guess: My suggestion for the name of our elementary-school year-end fête was selected — “Ye Jolly Olde Renaissance Faire,” wha?)
Still, I plugged away, and at 47, I’m feeling pretty okay about life. Most days I think life is pretty great, actually. I live in southern California, so some days it’s literally all sunshine and an annoying rose bush in my backyard that I have to keep on trimming.
It’s not like I suddenly became a winner. Why I once came in dead last in a triathlon! (Check that off the list, and don’t tell my parents.) In the races I run I usually come somewhere in the bottom of the top half — or in the top of the bottom half!
No, what happened is that I started valuing competency over everything else. “I can do that” became a thing I strive for, as opposed to “I should only try this if I can excel at it.”
Here is a partial list of things I am okay at, and their attached caveats:
- Cooking, except near everything I make is ugly.
- Running, except I am slow…