SECOND PLACE

Sometimes, we get what others might conceive as “the shaft.” Second place can seem like failure to some: very, very good but not quite good enough.

Recently, the world was engrossed with the World Cup. Us fans observed when Croatia, who effectively battled their way to the final, ended up coming up short. They got second place and not their desired outcome. But, considering the fact the country hasn’t been to the finals of the World Cup in decades, they were quite successful. In reality, they had a great showing and proved that a lesser populated nation could produce an outstanding team of players on the world’s pitch.

Second place can actually be quite a relief. I remember my school’s spelling bee when I placed second and my opponent advanced to the county level. I also recall Girl’s State when I lost to my opponent at the gubernatorial level. I was relieved to stop with both those levels of loss/success. I wanted the opponent to advance so I didn’t have all the additional responsibility. I got a modicum of success without further responsibility. I gained “partial noteriety” with which I was satisfied. My resume was filled but I had no further obligation.

Another example could be observing the American princess, Megan Markle. She made her official appearance with the Queen and royal family recently at Buckingham Palace. She was observed as being positioned behind Princess Kate And Prince William and some interpreted this as insubordination. But in fact, it was planned that way due to the hierarchy of succession. We can only speculate the relief she must have felt in being behind the experienced royals and not thrust straightaway into the world’s spotlight. Second row could have been welcome relief for her. Pressure was abated due to her physical positioning.

It can be a gift to be second place or runner up. It can be a blessing to obtain the experience of the trial, game, match or race and not gain all the pressure to move on to the next level. Or, the failure, per se, can be what makes us stronger. Sometimes, life allows us the gift of experience rather than that of prestige. Prestige is fleeting and bases itself on success and winning. Experience, our perpetual teacher, bases itself on failure as well, thus, nothing is wasted. In actuality, failure is what makes success so sweet. Second place can very much be a gift.

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