Monday, August 06, 2007

When 3rd place is really last place

I can vividly recall a free-throw tournament that I participated as an early teenager. A Catholic “fraternal society” called The Knights of Columbus hosted it. The objective was very simple: make as many successful free throws given ten attempts. The more the better. Duh. I think I made 1 out of 10. Nearly everyone in my age group made more than me. I obviously had no chance of winning anything. My young, fragile, impressionable ego would be crushed. I would always be a loser because of this traumatic tournament. Or so the adults must have thought , because I miraculously got 3rd place. At the time I didn’t think anything was unusual about it. I was far too excited. In fact, I could not contain my excitement as I rode home with my father, big medal around my neck.

It was not until recently that I realized that everyone got a medal. I imagine this “you’re all winners” mantra was meant to build confidence. Many people say that my generation is spoiled, sensitive, far too coddled and needs constant praise. I’m not surprised. Growing up, our parents and teachers made us believe that we were all special, so unique…one of a kind. Statistically speaking, this is impossible, of course. The sad, hard truth is that most people are average. You’re probably average. You don’t think it, but statistically, you probably are. You don’t think you’re average because psychology studies have shown that most people think they’re “above average”, regardless of what they are referring to (intellect, attractiveness, likability, etc). Don’t buy it? Go ahead; rate your own sexual attractiveness on a scale of 1 through 10.....

I bet it was higher than a 5. Oh, in case you were wondering, I think that I’m a 10 +. I know that it’s true because my parents told me. ;)

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