I feel like my life has been a long succession of second bests. For the most part, I've been okay with this; after all, second best is really good, right?!? But recently, I feel like I may be becoming second best in my little hobby--my refuge--and I'm looking for new pick-me-ups, koans, and defensive strategies so I can concentrate on what I love and not get too frustrated all the time.
posted by myaskme to human relations (47 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I am very good at a lot of things, and I've had some great successes and opportunities in my life. But I've never been the "best" at anything I can recall--I'm not talking world records here, just the catalogue of achievements you rack up in life. I went to a well-regarded university, though not the really prestigious school where my best friend went. I did very well and graduated with honors, but was not awarded a prize. I went to the second-best graduate program in my field, where I rose to the second-highest stratum of achievement. I got a job at the second-best employer in my field, and proceeded to do second-best kind of work.
I know--believe me, I know--I have it good. I also know that being #1 has its own drawbacks, etc. In 99% of my life, I am really okay with being #2, though sometimes it is nice to grab the brass ring.
There has been one thing I've been #1 in: my hobby. In my region, I've been the only, say, watercolor painter specializing in local frogs. I've put a lot of effort into it, and it's fun. After a little while, I discovered that there is a national association of frog watercolorists. I was pleased to find that my talents occasionally equaled the best in field, but were typically better than average (if I do say so myself). But they were elsewhere, and probably had more time to find frogs, so in my little world, I was still the best.
All of a sudden, I've noticed the work of another painter working on the same frogs. Their work, at first, was pretty poor, but recently I feel is at least equal to mine, and often exceeds what I do.
I really hate it. I don't mind being second best at work, school, in looks, BMI, baking, etc. But it really gets under my skin in this area, and it makes me want to give up.
I know I will never be the Audubon of frogs. I do this work for me alone, and don't want or need to make money off of it. I also know that when you turn things you love into a competition, you will always lose and there will always be someone better, faster, stronger than you. But it was so nice to best, albeit briefly.
Fellow also-rans, any words of wisdom to get the wind back in your sails? Tips for staying mindful that we're all just walking our own path and not everything needs to be a competition? Alternatively, can anyone point me to Scarabic's old comment about how to hide body? ;)