Tuesday 22 October 2019

What I'm Really Thinking about comparisons

'I don't want to be good enough, sometimes I'd like to be the best'
'I don't want to be good enough, sometimes I'd like to be the best'

It's very hard to go into school every day and be with other people who are better than you are. That's what I have to do. It doesn't matter whether it's the spelling test, or the hurling, there's always someone better than me. I feel like I'm useless. There's nothing that I'm good at. It's why I don't really bother anymore.

Teacher often gives out to me for being last to finish my work. I'm thinking, what's the point? But she just collects my copy and says "I'll bet if I was giving out sweets you wouldn't be last!" The rest of the class laugh at that. It's humiliating.

My Mam thinks she understands - but she doesn't. She just says nice things about me, but then she has to, because she's my Mam. So, she'll tell me not to compare myself to the other lads, that I'm good enough at my work, that I love sports, and that there's more to a team than the lads that score the points and the goals. But its hollow. It's hard to actually believe her. I don't want to be good enough. Just sometimes I'd like to be the best.

Mostly I don't believe her because she compares me, too. She doesn't do it directly, but I know what she means.

Like, the other day we were going to school, and I wasn't rushing (because why would I?) and she got all cross with me and was saying "why can't you just be ready on time?"; "Why do you always drag your heels?". I knew what she really meant was… why can't you just be ready on time like your brother?

My brother is two years older than me. He's a golden boy in everyone's eyes. My Nana thinks the sun and the moon shine out of him. My Mam too, but she's a bit better at hiding it. My brother is often top of his class. He's only 12, but he's playing on the u14s for the club, and he always makes the team, even if there are older lads that'll be subbed and mightn't even get a game. He's almost perfect. Other than being so smug. But adults don't mind his smugness. Nana even says to him, "you're dead right to know what you're good at. There's no point hiding your light under a bushel", whatever a bushel is. He's definitely not hiding it, anyway.

I never shine. Being ordinary sucks. No matter where you turn, there's always someone better, faster, taller, stronger, smarter, funnier… you know how it goes.

My uncle was over the other day. He's my best uncle. He's just great to hang out with. He's sound. He gave me this really cool bike when I was seven. I really love it. It's perfect for everything, from going fast, to doing stunts, and if you pedal back it locks the back wheel and you can do the most amazing skids.

But it's small now and he says he'll get me a new one for my 11th birthday. We were looking at them online. I was saying how they make my bike look old and a bit crap.

"Old and a bit crap?" he asked, "But 10 minutes ago, before we started looking at new bikes, did you love your old one?" "Well, yeah", I said.

"Then", he said, "nothing has changed except you're comparing it. It's just as amazing as it ever was. If you loved it then, you can keep loving it now."

I gave him a big hug then. It was like he wasn't talking about the bike, he was talking about me.

* As imagined by David Coleman

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