I have never been the best at anything. Really. Never. If you read my post a few back, you know that in the strange, little world inside my head, whenever I start something, I'm convinced I'm going to win the equivalent of an oscar for my shear genius. Well....I've started millions of projects. I have no oscar on my mantel. I guess it's just me trying to encourage myself not to quit.
I do feel like I am somewhat grounded which is quite the feat for me since I spent years feeling like a moth flying aimlessly around a light. But, the closer I get to 40.....little by little......I become a little more sane. Not counting the whole oscar thing, of course. I'm aware that's a little nutty.
Today, I was reminded of some icky feelings. I am not competitive, but I do like to do well at what I love. But....like I said.....I've never been the best at anything. I'm usually a close second. Maybe a third.
When I was a kid I played on a softball team. I started in the outfield where no 12 year old girl hits the ball, worked my way up to third and ended up on first base. I LOVED first base. I had a wild arm when I threw the ball but I could literally catch anything that was thrown to me. But, then there was that slight issue with hitting. I couldn't hit the ball. And, well, when you play ball....you have to be able to hit no matter how well you catch. You gotta do both.
We got a new player the following year and she was awesome. And she played first base. And she could hit.
Oh, dear. You see where this is going.
I became second string over night. So I kept thinking.....maybe she'll move to another team. Maybe she'll get hurt and I'll be back in. Maybe I'll get better! And then.....we picked up another awesome player. Another first baseman. So.....over night, I became a third string first baseman. And I never started a game again. I eventually quit softball for theatre. But I hung in as a third string first baseman for 4 years before I finally accepted the fact I was never going to be a starter again. Never.
It's funny how things affect you later in life. It was after that I started to notice I was never quite as good as most people at whatever it was I was doing. I was never the best actress in the play, even though I made a descent living as an actress. Always second or third. Never the best singer on stage. Always second or third. I would get the solo's unless there was another singer around. Then, I wouldn't. Never the best artist......always second or third.
Sigh. What's an approval addicted third string first baseman to do?
I'd like to say none of this bothers me anymore and that I truly believe God gave me the talents He wanted me to have and I'm satisfied with it and life is great and I'm confident in who I am and what I've been given.
My heart still breaks a little when I think about softball. It was no ones fault. And I wasn't angry at the coach (or the director of the play.....or the worship director who gave the solo to the new girl). How can you get angry with reality? It is what it is.
I guess my point of this rambling post is that it has taken me YEARS to be 'not crushed' by another second string realization. It is what it is. And I am who I am. I totally wish I were a better artist, a better singer, a better wife, a better mother.......and I really wish I had been a better softball player. I wish I had a bunch of awesome sports stories and trophies and team photos where my uniform wasn't suspiciously squeaky clean due to a lack of use.
But, at the end of the day......when things are tough and I'm down......I can go upstairs and paint. And I can put pandora on and sing where no one can hear me. And I don't have to look over my shoulder to see if I'm second or third or fourth. Because it's just me. I don't pretend I'm the best. I know that I'm not. But, painting and singing by myself and enjoying the things I love......they belong to me. They make me happy. They help me to forget whatever it is that has me low. And no one has to pat me on the back and say, 'Sorry kid.....you know how it is'.
That's why I love art. It's relative. It's honest. It's powerful and it heals. And when I look in the mirror at my 'uniform', aka my painters apron......it's stiff with years of paint. Layers of memories of all the work I've done, all the mediums I've tried, all the paintings/dolls/collages/etc. I've created. It's NOT suspiciously squeaky clean. It's WELL used.
Tonight, my sweet Molly came into my studio and looked at my half finished painting. 'Someday, you'll be a famous artist, Mama', she says.
Most likely I won't. That's okay.
Molly just made me feel first string.