Second String, First Rate

Chloe - Wilmette, Illinois
Entered on December 7, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

This girl I knew from school, Alex, seemed to be dripping with talent. She excelled in music, sports, and in every other category imaginable. Wow, I thought. If I’m not as great as Alex, how can I possibly be happy? How can I possibly be alright with being…mediocre? Not the best? However, as I reflected on my hobbies and activities, I realized that I’m doing what I love, and that helped me appreciate something else. This I believe: you don’t have to be the best to be happy with yourself and your accomplishments.

For the past four years, extra-curricular activities weren’t always easy. As time passed, I came to see that at certain things I was good—but not great. In orchestra, for example, I wasn’t the best violin player. At recitals, I was in awe of the advanced players, degrading myself, telling myself I was incompetent. I always believed I had potential to be the best in the orchestra, and all I needed was the will power; all I had to do was want it. Badly.

I didn’t have time for private lessons, and I found myself questioning why I even tried. I said to myself, Chloe, it’s because you love it. It’s because you enjoy playing the violin, and it’s because you enjoy learning new music. That’s why. From then on, I never questioned it. I just played.

It was the same situation with my soccer team. For four years I played for the Wilmette Wings Soccer Club. I always made the team–the B team, that is. The Premiere team was the team above us–the best in their league. They won countless tournaments and claimed the top players in the club. They practiced three times a week (we practiced only twice) and they seemed so much better than us. Our coach told us they weren’t that much better. They just wanted it. Badly.

Then came the Danny Cuniff Tournament. Both our teams were placed in the same group, so inevitably, we would play each other. We ended up tying, but losing on penalty kicks. This proved that our teams aren’t that different. They had a different name, scores, and statistics. That’s it. When you love something, you have to ignore the titles and numbers and just remind yourself that you’re not there for the rankings; you’re out there to play. That’s what has kept me going all these years: the continuous reminder that I love soccer, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get onto the field and play my heart out.

It has finally become clear –after many frustrating soccer seasons and school years–that I am so happy. I do things I love despite titles and names; they’re just words, and they won’t stop me from chasing my dreams. For people who are discouraged for not making a team, or not making the cut in another activity, I am living proof that you can be happy with yourself, even if you’re not first-string.