Always Second Best
One day, an old woman named Rose was telling her granddaughter stories of when she was younger. She told her about how she had written a book that became a bestselling novel in her early 30’s. The book had sold millions of copies, and the young girl was fascinated by that.
“Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, Grandma?” Asked Lily, who was eight years old.
Rose smiled at her granddaughter.
“I had known ever since the first day of kindergarten when we began learning words. That’s when I decided.” The old woman said.
“I felt like that on my first day of kindergarten too! Except for me, it was singing. I’m really good at it, I used to want to be a famous singer.” Said Lily, sounding a little disappointed.
“Why do you say you ‘used’ to want to be a famous singer, Lily?” Rose asked, frowning slightly.
“Well,” Began Lily. “Like I said I used to be the best singer in the class. But there’s this new girl, and she’s way better at singing than I am and everyone always compliments her on it, but no one compliments me anymore. What’s the point of trying if she’s so much better than me?”
It was clear that Lily was upset that she wasn’t the best anymore, and that was definitely something that Rose had felt before.
“You know, Lily,” She said. “All through elementary and middle school I was like that with writing: the best, always getting compliments. However when I got into high school, I met a girl in my English class. She always got better grades than I did on assignments; she was always the better writer. It bothered me to no end, I used to cry because of it, thinking that if I was no longer the best writer so accordingly, I was no one, insignificant.”
Lily sat up a little straighter, listening intently.
“So what did you do?” She asked.
Rose smiled at the memory, at the petty childishness of it.
“I did what any rational person would do.” Said the old woman. “I did everything in my power to be better than her, to get better grades than her.”
“Did you ever become a better writer than that girl?” Lily asked, craving to hear more.
“No, Lily. I did not become a better writer than her. But because I had practiced so much trying to be better, I became a better writer all together for it. I realized that it wasn’t about being the best out of everyone, it was about being the very best that I could be. So I followed my passion, and look where I am now.”
“Wow!” Exclaimed Lily, forgetting her own hardships. “One day, I’m going to be just like you, Grandma!”
Rose smiled at her granddaughter.
“Grandma?” Said Lily, a few hours later.
“What’s that girl who was better than you doing now?”
“Who knows, Lily. But I’ll tell you one thing that’s for sure. She hasn’t written a bestselling book, has she?”
* * *
Ten years later, eighteen-year-old Lily stood nervously awaiting her turn on stage. It was summer and she was currently at a fundraiser festival, where the people who ran it had needed a few acts to entertain the crowd. Lily saw this as her big chance. She had been singing all her life. She took lessons and practiced day in and day out. So she auditioned, and she made it!
When it was Lily’s turn to go on stage, she remembered the story her Grandma Rose had told her when she was just eight years old. Unfortunately, Rose had died four years previously. But the words rang in Lily’s years like it was only minutes ago.
“I realized that it wasn’t about being the best out of everyone, it was about being the very best that I could be”
With the encouragement of her grandmothers long past spoken words, Lily went out on stage and sang her heart out, the crowd cheering her on more than they had any other performer.
In that crowd was the girl from Lily’s old school, who had sung better than Lily. Also in the crowd, not too far from that girl, was Grandma Rose cheering her granddaughter on.