I’ve always wanted to be the best at something. I believe there’s a competitive nature in all of us that was inbred from minuscule rituals of, “My volcano is better than yours”.
My volcano was a papier-mâché mask that looked more like a slice of pizza than an art project. The colour composition of my mask was, COMBINE ALL THE COLOURS (red, yellow, green). I learned that combining all of the colours creates brown. My brown pizza mask didn’t make me feel like a fairy princess like the other girls’ masks, nor did it fulfill my craving to be the best.
I did not like art class, I did not like art class at all.
As I grew older, I learned from the girls at school that the boys had conducted a poll, and I was 6th prettiest in our grade. Well I didn’t like that at all either. What the hell was 6th prettiest going to get me in life? Not a date that’s for sure.
I was also the second tallest girl in my grade, which actually meant a little bit more than, “standing in the back of the school pictures with all of the boys and feeling like an ogre”.
I had been conditioned to feel bad about my awkward lankiness. Along with long legs came big feet and big hands. Big hands were not, “cute” to the other boys. I desired freakishly small hands and short stubby legs more than anything. Well, that and a pair of boobs would be nice. Training bras in the gym change room was getting a TAD embarrassing.
Well, turns out, my ogre legs helped to make me pretty damn good at running… and also… high jump, long jump, triple jump.
Turns out my long legs got me first place ribbons in the 100, 200, and best of all, a ticket to “Area 5”, where I could compete for our school.
I liked this. I liked this a lot.
Here’s the thing about success, you’re also going to have to overcome some setbacks. I questioned running backwards into a pole and trying to land on a mat as opposed to the concrete surrounding it. The possibility of injury led me to question my own skills, and the inevitable happened. I flinched and I landed on top of the pole, which is pretty fucking painful let me tell you. It hurt so badly, that I did not want to try to succeed again. I wanted to quit.
If you think this is going to be the, “get back on the horse” sort of stories, sorry to let you down. I quit high jump and never looked back.
However, I did learn that when you do not have confidence in your own skills, you will inevitably experience failure.
So, I still had the running thing going.
In high school, I applied my running skills to the rugby team. Rugby improved my self worth. I’d come to school with bruises all over my legs in my daisy dukes. There were girls who told me that they would never be able to live with bruises all over their legs all summer long. There were boys that told me only lesbians played rugby (and basically that I was a freak).
A part of me knew that it didn’t always matter what other people thought of me. I felt like there was something special about me and I was going to keep chasing successes (typical gen Y attitude right).
The 6th prettiest girl was going to be a somebody to herself, not to others.
I found working hard to be incredibly rewarding.
I became comfortable with being alone, and consequently lonely.
I set my sights on being the best at something new.
I wanted to take the easy route, go to a mediocre school and take a program I was not interested in just to do the motions. I wanted to go out with my boyfriend of the moment rather than study for tomorrow’s math exam. Instead, I disciplined myself and had my pick of all of the Universities that I applied to. I wanted to stay back for an extra year of 12 B with all of my friends, however my family convinced me that I was ready for bigger things.
The 6th prettiest girl found new competition grounds.
I fucked off for the first two years. I wanted to party with friends. I managed to go out 4 days a week and still make the grades.
Eventually, my priorities shifted. I liked getting A’s on my papers. I liked impressing my teachers. I liked doing my readings and learning new skills.
I liked sitting in the front of the class and knowing the answers to the teachers’ questions, while others showed up in sweatpants and struggled to stay awake (don’t get me wrong there were days I was that girl also).
I would put in WORK at the library. I will never forget studying until 1 AM in my residence common room for my first year Business exam on the freakin’ Saturday of Hallo-freakin-ween weekend. I yearned to be out drinking with my troll doll floor mates and the man in the banana costume.
I missed out on some things along the way. But, I had learned when I worked hard, my anxiety was lessened, and things started working out rather nicely for me.
I still wanted to have the best damn Volcano anyone had every seen. A Volcano so explosive that it was considered a weapon.
This meant that when I couldn’t find a job immediately after University, I made the best damn oreo frappucinos anyone had EVER SEEN.
Working hard at even the silliest of endeavours (you want a latte fredo? WTF is that man c’mon it’s my FIRST day) eliminated that fear of cracking my head open on some concrete.
The 6th prettiest girl now has a pretty kickass career that brought her away from her family and friends to our country’s capital.
The 6th prettiest girl faces one of her fears every single day: art. Graphic design is not where Ms. pizza face mask would have predicted she would end up.
Working hard now is not an option. Working hard is maintaining happiness. All of my eggs are in one basket. Which is why I am currently sitting alone on a Starbucks patio writing this blog, watching all of the happy couples eat gelato together.
I’m definitely not the best at everything.
But when I work hard, I find everything somehow finds it’s place.
Ok, well that’s not entirely true. There’s still people that will rate you as the 6th prettiest, and make you feel like you will never be good enough.
One of my deepest fears is to be deemed irrelevant, inadequate, and replaceable.
My whole life, I will try my hardest to be nice to the people who tell me the bruises on my legs are disgusting.
As my old sales manager always told me, “It’s none of my business what other people think of me”.
I try not to question myself as often.
The volcano might not always erupt.
I may be alone in a strange city kicking the volcano for letting me down.
I may actually believe that I can use Tinder as a means of making friends. I may actually think that asking someone, “hey wanna be my friend” comes across as honest as opposed to pathetic.
However, eventually, someone is going to look at the rows of pink and purple papier-mâché fairy masks, and decide that there’s something a bit better about the vomit coloured pizza mask.
Wish me luck.