Man I have always wanted to be the best at something. I’m mediocre at a lot of things. I’m the BEST at nothing. I’m not whining about it, I’m just stating facts.
My problem is that I want it to come easily. I guess that makes me a little lazy in that respect. For example, it would be awesome to be a great singer. I can’t carry a tune at all. In fact, when I was in the fifth grade we had a Christmas musical at our elementary school. We were all in it. We had to sing. As a group. Did I mention I can’t sing?
Well at one point the teachers told us that if we didn’t want to sing for some reason, we could sit out and not participate. I didn’t want to sing. Neither did a couple of other kids. We sat at the cafeteria tables while the other losers sang their little hearts out.
The next day my teacher, Mr. Franklin took me aside at recess with his partner in crime (another female teacher who I can’t remember the name of now) and asked me if I was having trouble at home. Uh, no. They asked if my parents told me I couldn’t sing in the program. Uh, no again. They kept grilling and interogating me trying to get to the root of the matter. The root of the matter was that I can’t sing, they said I didn’t have to, so I didn’t. Simple huh?
Well it turns out those other two kids were Jehovah’s Witnesses and for some reason they couldn’t sing in the program for ‘religious reasons’. I was a Baptist. I suddenly had to sing.
They did tell me I could lip sync if I wanted to. After they explained what lip syncing was, I was on board. Keep in mind this was well before we all learned what lip syncing was after the Milli Vanilli fiasco.
So I never became a great singer.
I also wanted to play an instrument. I tried the trumpet which I wrote about in agonizing detail here. I am so not a trumpet player. I am also not a guitar player also detailed in the above post.
I tried several sports; softball, volleyball, basketball. I was again, very very below average at best. Now, some of that I think comes from inate talent. Some of it comes from early opportunities at success that help form a driving passion for a sport. Success breeds success. When you START OUT mediocre and never advance past that point, all you have left to fuel your fire is passion. If you don’t have the passion for it, you are NOT, no matter how talented you are or how much potential you have, going to be the best.
In my early thirties I decided adventure racing was for me. I LOVED watching the inspirational stories of the Ironman and then Mark Burnett came along with Survivor. I could do that!
Well it turns out that I’m a much better organizer of adventure races and endurance activities than a participant in them. I’m a weak link. I would be the one being helicoptered out of the event with an IV in my arm that you see on CNN from time to time. One of my goals in life at this point is NOT to be that person.
I tried duathalons, 10ks, 5 ks, a relay marathon (I only ran the last glory mile) and finally I actually did an adventure race with my friends Monty, Laura and Tom. My goal was to NOT be last. We weren’t last. But we were damn close. I did not get helicoptered out. I did get a dibilitating migraine headache and spent several hours throwing up afterwards. The Survivor dream died there. I would never make it.
I helped organize the Ozarks Greenways Adventure Races for the first four years planning and implementing torturous courses for those made of much stronger physical stuff than I was. I did get Ozark Greenways Member of the Year sometime around 2001. That was pretty cool 😉
Working on that adventure race was very satisfying and terrifying all at once. After four years of stressing out that something I did in the planning of one of those events might get someone hurt or lost, I finally quit. It was a good run but I was worn out.
After that I decided, maybe I would never BE the best at anything. At this point in my life I think that’s okay. Good thing because it’s getting a little late in life to start something new and still reach BEST status I think. That doesn’t mean it’s too late to try new things though.
Grace has spent this last week at Baton Practice at school so she can be in the Niangua Parade on Saturday. She said she wanted to do it, then chickened out and didn’t. We talked her back into it. She’s loved it this week. We told her if she didn’t try things she’d miss out on a lot of cool opportunities to have fun and learn to be good at things.
Tomorrow night she’s starting basketball practice with several other first graders. Two of the first grader’s dads are coaching it. They are going to try to start playing competitively. I hope she likes it because if she does then by the time she gets into junior high she could be really really good at it. But she’s got to have a passion for it. Starting young will help, but if your heart isn’t in it, your body won’t be either.
By the end of soccer this season she was done with it. I don’t know if she’ll find her passion and become the BEST at something or if she’ll even care. I just don’t want her to pass up any opportunity to try.
Like the great band Def Leppard says…
It’s better to burn out, than fade away.