Throughout elementary and well into middle school I was the best violinist in my grade, if not the whole orchestra. However, everything changed on that unforgettable day in eighth grade when I met Jose Chan, a super violinist. To me, Jose seemed like a prodigy. Although I studied him, tried to imitate his playing style and taught myself vibrato, I could foresee no plausible way of attaining his “boy wonder” skills. I peacefully took the seat of second best, taking comfort in my inner belief that, if I really tried, I could be just as good, if not better, than Jose Chan. However, I opted not to test my theory. Realizing I was no longer the “cream of the crop,” a part of me stopped caring about being the best, but for pride’s sake I never sank lower than second best.
The tougher challenge came when I began high school. I met not one, but a whole army of “Jose’s,” and even a few “super- Jose’s.” To my dismay, not only was I not the best, suddenly I was not second best or third. I would be pushing it to say I was somewhere in the far 30th arena. The ultimate “in your face” came when I realized that this dilemma transcended to all my academic endeavors. The thought depressed me for a moment, but I quickly replaced it with that same laissez-faire attitude I carried in eighth grade. I went from the girl who achieved 110% “A’s” in her classes, to the girl who settled for 89.5%. Yet no matter how intelligent of a person I met, somewhere in the back of my mind, I felt I could be better and I could be smarter, if I really tried. Again, I never tested my theory on these thoughts. This year that I discovered why I had been so apprehensive to test my “theories of intellect.” Fear wrapped its confining grasp around me, and with that fear came the fight or flight response. Instead of fighting to achieve the best, the fear of finding out that maybe I was not the best or the smartest, made me, well, flee for lack of a better word. Instead of really challenging myself, I chose not to try at all, to hold on to the possibility of “if.” I guess I found comfort in that state of mind.
The problem I faced did not revolve around the Jose Chan’s of the music or academic realm; the difficulty came in learning how fear, be it competition or danger, could change my entire perspective on life and accomplishments. Regardless of whether or not I was the best, I began to give my best in every area of my life. I finally figured out that if I do not succeed in the task at hand, I can find comfort in the fact that I gave it my all instead of having that unsettling knowledge that I could have succeeded if I had only tried.
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