This I Believe

Stephanie - corvallis, Oregon
Entered on June 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity, work

First is the worst, second is the best…

“First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the hairy chest.” It is the classic rhyme, sung by children across the playgrounds of America, intended to make the second best four square player or dodge ball competitor a little less embarrassed by their second best efforts. I do not intend to applaud those four square champions or dodge ball prodigies but rather to commend the child standing in the shadow of first place, for I believe in second place.

Whether you are the forgotten child overshadowed by an older sibling or an Olympic athlete losing the first place medal by a fourth of a second, being second best is an inevitable part of life and yet thoroughly looked down upon.

It is in my belief that being second best is not the end of the road. It is not a curse but a blessing, for being so close to the top and then to watch your dream crumble away forges in you a sense of ambition and desire that does not come with a first place trophy. I know this is true for I have experienced it.

For the past four years dance team has engulfed my life. My team practices nine hours a week, seven months a year. All thirteen dancers dedicated to the extreme. And yet my team, in all eight years of its existence, has never held a first place trophy in our hand. After spending an exhausting twelve hour day at a competition, we return home with disappointment, knowing we were only a mere three points away from our dream. We go to sleep with the judges voices echoing in our head “you are a team with such potential… if only you could take it to the next level” The What If? factor haunts us in our dreams. And yet the next morning, bleary eyed and exhausted, our muscles aching from yesterdays dancing, all thirteen of us drag ourselves out of bed for 8 a.m. dance practice. Why do we do it?

I believe in second place. I believe that a dace team can go from being a second place team to a first place team. I believe that a second best team can get a score of 69.5, getting a golden ticket to perform at the second round of state after eight years of perseverance and dedication. I believe this because it happened. Not because of luck or chance but because being second best can ingrain a message in your head: That you need to have a drive superior to that of any other competitor, a motivation that exceeds your opponents and a will power unmatchable to your challenger . You have this drive because you are second best. And that mantra gives you a one up on every other first place competitor out their. Tell that to those four square and dodge ball losers.