All my life I have strived to be the best, to be the greatest and grandest in everything I did and could do. I don’t know where it comes from, it might just be from the competitive culture that most us are born in. The point is, second wasn’t good enough, never ever,
At school I was the best student, I always got the first position award each year. That was me, Sandy Macxermillio Masia, the most brilliant guy in school. Much of it was self-made, I didn’t go to a posh school or have the best teachers in the world, much of what I achieved was from my personal efforts, well most of it. So when I got awarded second place, I felt like I had lost. Second place just means you are the first loser. I snapped the trophy in half and the medal is still somewhere trashed.
After school, with a last minute late application, Rhodes University made a place for me. They had literally told me that it was too late to apply but they accepted me anyway. At the time it was the sixth ranked university in the continent. It took only the best. So there I was amongst the very best in the continent and the country. Showtime, I thought as I attended my first lecture. But soon, I began to realize how isolated I was at my university. Most of the students who went there were from private schools, posh schools and model C schools, I was the second person I knew who came from what would be called a poor neighborhood school, a ghetto school. Much of who I was, was self-taught and there was a huge gap between what they knew and what I knew.
But that wasn’t a barrier, I would give it my best shot and come out on top. It is what I always do, I conquer. I am Macxermillio. However, my university career was the worst time of my life. During my time there I lost important family members, I was isolated, my mental health issues came to the front, I had an array of physical illnesses and my finances were always a stressor. Not mentioning the substance abuse that followed. If I wasn’t dragging myself to class, I was in a health care center or a hospital (mental or medical hospital). When I got some reprieve from my many ailments I would spend time dealing with one calamity after another. But, hey, I passed all exams. But I wasn’t ever as best as I knew I could be. Never. Awards never went my way, here I was just the odd one who was always dealing with one problem or another. In a way, I’m still that person. Chronic illness or constant issues that are out of your scope of control can isolate you from everyone, even yourself.
It was a surprise when in one of my periods of reprieve I did so well that I got that letter from the Dean, placing me in a group of the top students in my class and allowing me exclusive access to some of their lecturers and events. At last, I was validated. I felt like me again. Special. But Attending these functions I quickly learned how better, similar or lacking I was in some respects. Nonetheless I could see why my lectures liked me. Soon after I got another invitation, this time from a different department. I was me again, and it felt great. Unfortunately, tragedy struck, someone close committed suicide and I was back again in the therapist chair, which I had been in for three years but this time I thought I was done with that crap.
Having left college I realize how lucky I was. I realize was unfortunate I was. But mainly I realize the huge gap between me and my peers, even though I feel like a failure in many ways I am brilliant to them. They marvel at my intellect, my wit, my problem solving skills, my logic and more. Constantly in my life I have held myself to higher standards. In everything I do I try to make it the best it can be or has to be, and it is this attitude that delays me and stops me from ever producing or doing everything. I get overwhelmed quickly.
I am now starting to learn that there is no such thing as the best. In everything we do there is someone better than us, someone as good as we are, and someone worse. And even when you are at the top you can conceive of something better, something more perfect. It is a slippery slope. Instead of telling people to be the best they can be, I wish someone had told me just to be adequate. Being the best is a quality without limits or clear boundaries, no one can possibility fill it. However, everyone can be adequate. I tell you, even when I got those letters from the dean, those first place prizes I always felt like there was a void. All I ever want to feel, is enough. And that should be the standard. Pursuing an idea that is conceptually impossible and unattainable like perfection (being the best) is putting unnecessary strain on ourselves. Ideals that have no place in the pragmatic nature of the world. I’m not saying we should stop encouraging quality but we should make it seem like it is the only thing of any value.
3 thoughts on “How I Learned There Is No Such Thing As Being The Best.”
It is a constant lesson in the world, to do with doing, to look without seeking the reward, we sometimes forget just to enjoy the ride.
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I couldn’t agree more. Easy said than done, you have to constantly remind yourself. Thanks for the comment.
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Indeed, Johnsmithiiimxiii and Macxermillio! Sometimes we should pause for a moment and reflect in the moment so that we can be much less reactive or mercurial towards the hustle and bustle or the humdrum of life. There is a Chinese proverb teaching us to be more humble and reserved: “There is always another mountain higher than this one.” In addition, having a much larger perspective can help.
In terms of both the spirit and content, your post “How I Learned There Is No Such Thing As Being The Best” is best matched by mine at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/soundeagle-in-best-moment-award-from-moment-matters/
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