My fear is that the people who have reached those goals are fundamentally more talented than I am so I need to work longer and faster. [Mike Birbiglia]
I got an exam back today. Top score. I spent the entire class wanting to know how Alison did, not because I like Alison or feel she may have gotten the next highest score, but because she finished the whole exam in 20 minutes and that’s more impressive than any number scrawled on the bottom of a scantron sheet. I’m better, but she’s faster. I knew more of the answers, but she can do anagrams. I know how to study, but she knows how to be likeable. I got a good grade, but she got everything else.
I never stop comparing myself with others. I compare so I know my competition, even though I never win. I will never see myself as “the best” at anything. I rationalize this by saying that thoughts of success lead to complacency and complacency inhibits personal growth, but I don’t see myself this way because I find it rational; I see myself this way because I genuinely believe that the world is filled with people who are better than me at everything.
The second-highest score on an exam does not make be better than 30 students: it makes me worse than one. The highest score on an exam does not make me better than 31 students: it makes me the girl who got a higher test score than the kid with the better resume.
I need to wrap this up quickly so I can get back to studying for tomorrow’s exam. I’m not Ivy League law school material, but maybe I can fool them. Maybe they’ll see my transcript and read my vaguely eloquent plea for their acceptance and let me slip through. Maybe then I’ll have the chance to keep trying to catch up to the senator’s children, former Peace Corps members, and other legitimately impressive students whose eyes I will meet when I am told to look left and right on my first day. Maybe I’ll one day have the chance to try to win a case against someone who is probably a better lawyer than I will ever be.
The good news? I won’t stop trying.
The bad news? I can’t stop trying.