What a word. The only word in the English language (that I know of) that provides such pride, but also a great deal of uncertainty. The first man on the moon, the first cure for the common cold, the first woman to win gold at the 100m sprint at the Olympics, all of these firsts inspire people, create dreams and challenge the world to do better. Alongside this challenge, however, lies doubt.
Whether it’s “can I make it?” or “it’s impossible,” the human mind is always doubting itself. My whole life I have always tried my hardest to come first at everything I do, as I thought that if I did, my life would be easy. I thought that if I achieved this goal then I would earn the respect of others; that I would make it into a good school; that I would never have to sit through a job interview because employers would just throw the positions at me. This worked for me all through middle school, and early high school. However, suddenly everyone became prettier than I was, or smarter, or more popular and they pushed the bar even higher.
Although I hate to flatter them, there are two guys that did this the most. They were the smartest, the cleverest, and everyone wanted to be around them. It drove me insane. I would work my very hardest to try and beat them at everything. I stayed up late working on homework, or studying for an exam or practising a skill with a football, just to beat them. The compelling competitive nature inside of me hated the fact that they were in my life, but no matter how hard I tried I could never come out on top. I was always third place, and I felt that the rest of the class liked me less because of it. Despite my parents, teachers, and parishioners around me telling me that there was still a chance or that I could pull through and come first, I quickly became depressed and unenthusiastic.
It wasn’t until the beginning of my tenth year of schooling that I realised that it didn’t matter.
Now, I’m not saying that it isn’t good to come first, and I still always strive to be the best that I can be, but I remembered that, at the Olympics, there are three places on the podium. I knew this before, of course, but what I didn’t realise, was that no matter where the winners stood on the podium, whether it be first place, second place, or third, their smiles were all the same. Their expressions beamed with pride, their grins spreading from ear to ear, and most importantly, their eyes shining with a lack of uncertainty. They all know that they have made it to where they want to be.
Being a teenager of the 21st century, I tend to spend the majority of my day connected to internet in one form or another. In year 11, my Pastoral Care teacher gave out a sheet where you recorded how many hours a week you spent on the internet. I recall my friends, Luke, Ryan and I having more internet hours recorded than there are hours in the week. So, it is no surprise that I came across the quote on Tumblr, which reads:
“Reach for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.”
This quickly became my life motto, and I became less upset (well, over that anyway), and more focused for the goal that I wanted to achieve, not which everyone else wanted me to.
However, my history teacher in my senior year of high-school, informed me that this was complete bullshit. The moon is far closer to the earth than the stars, and hence; if you miss, you end up suffocated to death and floating around aimlessly.
His point (I believe) was to suggest that, although it is always good to dream big, sometimes it can be more beneficial to set, slightly more realistic goals.
So don’t aim to be first, aim to be the best that you can be.