Wednesday, June 28, 2006

in the company of winners

my mother once told me that she's very happy that i found myself in the company of people who are all very talented, smart and special in their own way. i interpreted that to mean that she's happy i don't hang out with "the wrong crowd".

however, that wasn't really what she meant. she is of course relieved that i didn't stray from the straight path, but what she really wanted to tell me was that she is glad that alot of my friends are better than me, often in more ways than one.

that might not make much sense to you, so i'll have to tell you a little background story.

my parents have a classmate who had 3 daughters. in true fashion of a brothers grimm fairy tale, each one was more beautiful than the last. also in true fashion of a brothers grimm fairy tale, the story ends in tragedy.

the youngest daughter - let's call her "alice" - was the prettiest, smartest and most talented of the 3 girls. she topped her class every year and held multiple leadership positions in school. she was pretty, popular and people either hated her or worshipped the ground she walked on. it was a good place to be.

however, alice's teachers decided that it was time for someone else to have a chance to shine. although she was a capable leader who juggled schoolwork and extra-curricular activities very well, it was unfair for her to hog every bit of limelight available and stifle all the other girls' chances to show what they can do.

it was to alice's horror that the teachers chose a different girl to take up the responsibility as the rangers' unit leader, a position she had been confident of taking over ever since her seniors stepped down.

alice was angry and confused - why wasn't she chosen? didn't the teachers trust her? she worked so hard to qualify for the position; did they think that she could have worked harder? what did the other girl have that she didn't?

no matter how hard she tried, alice could not work it out. deep underneath her confident shell, she was as insecure and immature as any other teenage girl. the inability to comprehend the reality that she could not possibly be on top all the time finally overwhelmed her one day.

she kicked the stool from under her and said goodbye to the cruel, cruel world.

my mother said her classmate failed to show up at their annual class gatherings for a good 10 years after alice's death.

i understand what it is that she wanted me to know: by surrounding myself with people who are more hardworking than me, smarter than me, more muscially talented than me, better-looking than me (not hard to find, but yeah), more mature than me or are just generally better than me - it kept my feet planted firmly on the ground.

i've been chosen last for team games during pe. i've been passed over for several leadership positions in school. i've only ever once finished top of my class - and that was only because my closest competitor didn't hand in his art folio and hence landed himself a "B" for art in form 2. there are plenty of things my friends can do that i will never be able to be really good at no matter how hard i try.

it's all those things that i remind myself of everytime i do get picked to take on responsibilities or whenever i receive recognition for any work i have done.

when you're in the company of winners, there will be more than one occasion when you have to concede defeat to someone who is better than you, fair and square. when that happens, although it is necessary to practice some humility here, there really is neither shame nor cause to feel any less worthy because were in the company of winners, man!


congratulations to the new students' representatives council (src) of imu...especially to kahyee, my super totally worthy opponent. it was a pleasure running for vice pres with you! if only every competition i get myself into were so friendly. hehe.

also, many many thanks to everyone who supported me throughout the campaign. my only regret is that i can't materialise any hope you had placed in the votes you gave me, not through the src at least.

now what are you waiting for? give the new src some work to do! lol. =)

lishun at 10:43 PM