Allow me a question—which you choose not to answer?
Have you ever felt like you always lag behind in second place?
A scenario a tad like this: you take on a hobby, but there is always someone better than you? You go to a party, and you feel like wallpaper? You exercise, but you can’t seem to have the body you want? You get passed over for a promotion.
This list could be quite lengthy—if not endless. No matter what, it doesn’t appear that you excel at anything. You are not the smartest, prettiest, craftiest,…you simply don’t stand out in anything. The word average comes to mind.
You are lost in the sea of humanity without purpose. You feel like a wanderer fighting to be seen—and heard—in a too vast world.
For some, crowds can be magnificent places to hide if they want some anonymity for a while. Anonymity—or being unseen—can be healing if it is by choice and for a time.
If you have ever been accepted in a group under false pretenses—for instance, if you had to change who you are for acceptance—you are well aware that such recognition does not feel right nor does it fulfill your deepest desire for belonging. This type of approval does not satisfy instead it leaves us empty.
We long to be wholly seen, entirely in the raw, without filters, and to be embraced.
The thing of it is, it is hard to get a sense of belonging when we continually feel we belong in second place.
I have often felt that way.
Always Second Place
I am capable of doing many things but feel I excel at none. There is nothing to make me stand out. I don’t think this would necessarily be a huge deal if I didn’t feel so transparent and inconsequential as a child. I was often the third wheel, tagging along with my aunt and her family. While I am grateful for my aunt’s care for me, I didn’t feel I was one of them.
I was other.
I did not want to be other.
I wanted to be part of an “us,” a “we”…and I felt anything but.
Did you notice I said, “feel?”
Feelings, while real, aren’t necessarily true. They can be based on faulty assumptions and inaccurate conclusions. Whether true or untrue, we live out of our beliefs if we believe them to be the honest to goodness truth. Subsequently, we live from these “truths.”
Being very imaginative, I created wondrous worlds where I was important, and in which my existence mattered.
In time, I grew up, and I also grew to understand I did matter and that how I viewed myself was more important than how others saw me especially random strangers.
However, my feelings of belonging were not always seamless. On occasion, old, long ingrained beliefs would surface again and taunted me.
Second place huh?
My attitude had to change.
In a defiant act, I had to decide to change my worldview.
While we live in a society which likes to quantify and label: first, last, best, worst, etc….we don’t have to buy into this belief—that we are numbers in a multitude, one of many and therefore insignificant.
One of Many
We hold value despite our shortcomings not because of what we do but because of who we are. I am not talking about our shell either—our body, our appearance is not us.
We are limitless, eternal, and multidimensional.
We are made of trillions of cells which function without us having to tell them what to do. While we are capable of atrocities, we are also capable of incomparable acts of beauty and selflessness.
You are here. Therefore, you have value…as a human being.
Always Second Place…Who Cares?
There will always be a better than, prettier than, and smarter than. But, there is also less than, not as pretty, and not as smart as.
We get to choose how we want to see the world. We get to decide how we want to be in the world. And, I am not talking about our innate abilities. I am talking about the choices we make every day despite our gifts or in spite of them.
We can be a royal jerk as easily as a kind person. The choice is ours.
No matter our background, our gender, the color of our skin, there is a point when we get to choose how we show up.
The perceptions of others, that, we have zero control over. How we see ourselves and what we believe about us is all within our power. We are not small, unempowered, naive children anymore.
Yes, I felt like second place because I focused on the negative. Getting a B did not make me less worthy than the person who received an A. My interpretation of what the B meant and what that interpretation said about me was the issue, not the event—the B.
I can choose to see others as a threat to me or I can choose to be happy for those who do better than me, knowing that, to someone else, I am that person that makes them feel second place.
I get to decide the world I want to live in, and while many events are outside my control, with training, I can control my reactions to said events. Yes, sometimes, I do very well, and I can pat myself on the back.
Other days, I am in the Pit. I am no less worthy of love and belonging on the days my world is bleak…I am maybe more worthy—of receiving—love on darker days rather than brighter ones, actually.
Life is not some beautiful linear line from point A to point B. There is not a day when “we arrive,” and it is smooth sailing and happily ever after from then on. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Life is more like a bowl of spaghetti you just emptied into the strainer. It is confusing, messy, slimy, and very much full of twists and turns and “this and that” until your last breath.
Nevertheless, this fact does not have to be bad. Life can still be joyous, exciting, beautiful, fulfilling, and simply utterly amazing.
Life is a lot of what happens to us…no doubts about that. It is also a lot of how you see it and interpret it. If your filters are “I am always second place”…then everything will be tainted by this belief. The beauty of being human is that we can make the deliberate choice to change our views.
You see, your brain is full of paths. Your cranium is lazy and prefers to reuse paths well traveled. In this case, your brain is Boss.
However, you can tell your mind to stand down and state “I’ve got this.” You can declare, that from now on, you are in charge. Thereafter, you can create new paths.
In time, the old ones will get covered up and be discarded.
On occasion, something will trigger you, and you will find yourself on an old path again, and that’s okay as long as you don’t stay there.
Yes, I might forever come in second place…or third, or fifth. That’s not the point.
The point is that as long as there is breath in me, I get to participate—fully engaged—in my life without feeling the need to quantify every event.
I get to live now.
I get to just live and stop comparing.
Do the same.
Be you because you owe it to the world and you mainly owe it to yourself.
Go ahead…say to yourself…hey Sweetie let’s have a good time. Let’s take life by the horns and enjoy this messy, crazy, breathtaking, incredible, joyful, love-filled—sometimes messy, crazy, painful—ride.