The Takeaway: Beat You To It

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The first year of high school is a magical time. If there are any freshmen reading this: please soak in every last bit of self-discovery and originality that most dedicate their first year to finding. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it won’t last very long.

And I mean that in the sense that there’s a certain point in high school where you realize you are not the only special one. I think it happens every time you advance into a higher level of something (school, work, video games, etc), but one day you’ll look around your AP Chemistry class or sports team or art studio and realize that every student is here to compete for the top of class, the best of that skill just like you are. It’s intimidating. It’s disheartening. It’s depressing. Suddenly for every passion or thing that you’re proud of yourself for, there will be someone waiting around the next corner ready to take it from you or diminish your accomplishments with their own. You don’t even notice that everything about high school has become a competition until you’re already ten steps behind the rest of the pack. It’s almost like quicksand- how easy you lose the motivation to try harder. The harder you try to climb to the top, the faster you sink. What even is the point? Does anyone even appreciate your efforts?

I don’t dare say all of these things out of ignorance or inexperience. I’m not just assuming this happens. I’ve struggled with this all through high school, and if you’re anything like me, chances are you are more than familiar with this sense of defeat. What I’m about to say next might sound harsh, but trust me, it works:

Get over it.

You’re allowed a pity party when someone who didn’t even study gets the grade you worked so dang hard for, but only for a few minutes. You’re allowed to mope when that other girl snags the coveted lead role in the musical that you so desperately deserved, but only for a little while. You’re allowed to cry, sob even. Be pissed. Be VERY pissed!

But then get over it.

You’ve got to get used to not always winning. You will not always be #1, it’s just life. Failure, disappointment, defeat- it’s going to happen so so so many times before you actually make even the slightest bit of progress. If you’re always winning, you’re not challenging yourself enough. The most beautiful thing about having a gift or a passion is that you’re not supposed to ever stop letting it grow. Just because you didn’t get the best test grade or highest ranked position or coolest internship opportunity this time around doesn’t mean your abilities or strengths are useless. There’s always going to be someone we think is cooler, stronger, prettier, smarter… The only difference between those who’s success you envy and those who’s lack-of you pity is their willingness to get back up.

Forget about the winner-takes-all mentality. It never truly exists because you’ll win one race just to lose the next. Beat yourself up about missing out on an opportunity enough to make sure you don’t ever make the same careless mistakes again, but not enough so that it starts holding you back from prepping for the next race. Cut your losses, toughen up, and start over. When it’s your turn to be acknowledged for your hard work, you will be. And trust me, so long as you don’t stop pushing towards that finish line, your turn will come.

But until then, just work hard. Work hard and be more than average. Don’t settle for less and don’t you ever dare use competition as an excuse to back down. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

xo, TSJ

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