It sometimes seems to me that nothing ever goes my way. I never end up on the top of the pyramid. There is always someone else who is just a bit prettier, or just a bit smarter than me who ends up on top. I'm always out-shined, coming in a close second place, but not quite first.
I have been living in my sister's shadow for the past thirteen years. My sister is so smart. She gets perfect grades and has a 4.0 GPA. My dad, who was also very studious in school, always praises her for her brains. My sister is also on the math team. (I call her a nerd.) When she was in seventh grade, the grade I'm in this year, she competed in the eighth grade state-wide math competition and individually took first.
I can't help but be jealous of my sister sometimes, especially when Dad asks us how our grades are at the dinner table and she says that she has a 108% in her AP math class, while I have to confess about my 97% in regular seventh grade math. I know that a 97% (an A by my school's grading scale) is nothing to be ashamed of, but try telling that to the condescending look my dad gives me when he hears this compared to my sister's success. You don't even want to hear about his reaction to me telling him that I didn't score high enough on the pre-test to make it to the school-wide Geography Bee! I have been compared to my sister for my entire life, and I've never come close to getting out from under the huge shadow she casts.
You know that girl that everybody loves? She's pretty, smart, and enemies to her are non-existent. That girl just happens to be one my best friends. All the boys love her and she can get practically anybody to do anything she wants. Her hair is always perfect, never too frizzy or too flat. Her skin is flawless, with no blemishes or pimples, ever. Everybody loves her, because she gives the best advice, can keep any secret, and is always there when you need her. I think that every girl that's been through junior high has been compared to her before. When people compare me to her, they find that my hair is a bit frizzier, my nose is much wider, I'm not the most popular girl in the world, though definitely not unpopular, not everybody loves me, and my dark complexion is not flawless. I fall into second place in every category, the usual for me. I try not to let it get to me but sometimes it just drives me insane.
I am, always have been, and most likely always will be second best. I'm second best at EVERYTHING: second best singer, second best volleyball player, second best guitar player; the list goes on and on. This can get to be very hard for someone as competitive as me, but then again, it's probably the reason why I'm so competitive. In my mind, there is only one ending place, first. When I don't end up there, I feel as though I've let myself down. I may sound like a drama queen, (probably because I am) but if there's one thing I know about me, it's that I'm way too hard on myself. Second place may as well be last place in my eyes.
The other day I got to thinking. I thought about how I'm always second best and how nobody ever realizes my success as runner-up because they're too focused on the champion who beat me. And that's when it occurred to me. "Maybe I'm not always second best; I just don't realize and appreciate it enough when I take first." These words rang through my head over and over again until there was no doubt in my mind that it was true. Then I got to thinking some more. I thought about all of the things that I do succeed in and that I'm best at. I'm a great artist, and I am one of the most artistic people you will ever meet. I'm so good at acting, and have always landed the lead role in the school play. When I write songs and poems, I write my heart out, and no one can take that away.
Just stopping and thinking for a while about what I'm good at and my value really helped me to realize my importance in life. Importance doesn't always mean that you're the best at something, just that you try as hard as you can and that there's a reason why you do. Importance isn't always huge either. The tiniest thing can make the biggest mark and the smallest gestures can change lives.
My mom always tells me, "The difference between smart people and wise people is that smart people learn from their own mistakes, and wise people learn from others' mistakes." And so I ask you, my friends, to be wise and learn from my mistakes. When you are feeling out-shined or out-done, before you beat yourself up emotionally, think of your value. Think of all the things that you are good at. Think of all the lives that you change. Don't let envy and pride get the best of you, because everybody is good at something, but nobody is good at everything.