What I Learned From Being Mediocre
Jealousy gets you nowhere.

I waited breathlessly, turning my plastic cup over and over in my hands. I stared at the table, hoping that no one would notice how anxious I was.

I was at pyc, and our assistant camp director was about to announce girls’ soccer all-stars.

As he started announcing the names in alphabetical order, I squeezed my eyes shut, listening as hard as I could. Surely, surely I would get in this year. I had waited for this, wanted this, worked so hard for this for three whole years. I had practiced for pyc, doing drills in all the sports so I could get better—maybe even get good at something. Wasn’t it my turn this year? I listened to the other girls in the cafeteria as they exhaled happily or squealed when their names were called. When Mr. Burns passed where my name should have been alphabetically, I still waited, eyes squeezed shut, hoping against hope that my name was somehow just out of order.

But then he said, “And that’s all for girls’ soccer all-stars.”

I opened my eyes. I had not been picked. Again. For the third year in a row.

During the rest of dinner, I tried to be extra chatty and positive so that no one would know just how disappointed I was. I tried to laugh it off, to pretend that I really didn’t care. But as we walked back to our dorm, I felt hot tears welling up in my eyes. The two girls in my dorm who had made soccer all-stars were discussing the soccer socks they would wear during their game. It’s not fair, I thought. I can play soccer too! And I love to play so much. It didn’t help my attitude that one of the two girls who had been chosen from our dorm was actually younger than me. Why do I never get picked?

In the whole grand scheme of things, getting into all-stars really wasn’t that important, but at the time, it seemed like the most important thing in the world. To me, it was more important to be thought of as good at a sport than to be glad for those who actually were. I cared far too much about the opinions of my peers. What I should have been considering was what God thought of my attitude. God looks on the heart. I thought I was good enough to be in all-stars, and I was upset that no one else seemed recognize that fact. Sports did not come naturally to me; I had to work really hard to even be mediocre at them. It was disheartening that all of my hard work still hadn’t paid off. But there was a reason for that—a reason I hadn’t recognized yet.

That evening at Bible study, I told my parents that I didn’t get into all-stars and then promptly burst into tears. It was silly—I’m a little embarrassed to admit it now. But at the time, it seemed like the end of the world. My parents told me that it wasn’t as big of a deal as I was making it out to be. It was only a game. Instead of being jealous and focusing on myself, I should have been happy for the other girls who had been chosen.

I needed an attitude adjustment. I was viewing the entire situation selfishly—I was only thinking about me, about how I had been passed over. And to tell the truth, I was jealous of those other girls. I hadn’t realized it before, since I had just been feeling sorry for myself. But my parents showed me that I was approaching the whole situation from the wrong point of view. I should have been excited that the other girls had been given this opportunity, not wishing that I could take their places.

My parents’ down-to-earth advice made a huge difference in my attitude. I prayed about my attitude that night, asking God to make me glad for those who were being honored, especially those who were in my dorm. Those girls were my friends, and I didn’t want to be jealous of them.

When the girls played their all-star soccer game, I cheered with all my might. It was a really good game, and the camper team won! And no one really cared that I wasn’t part of the team. Not even me.

My fourth and final year of pyc as a camper, I was finally chosen for soccer all-stars. I was so excited—and so thankful. I realized anew that God does give us what we wish for, but in His time. If I had gotten into all-stars the year before, I wouldn’t have learned the valuable lesson I learned that year—that I should be happy for others when they succeed instead of wanting that success for myself.

I had only been thinking about myself, so I was jealous of my friends’ accomplishments. But jealousy and envy are rotten characteristics in God’s eyes (Proverbs 14:30).

Sometimes it’s hard to be mediocre; I have always been one of those people who wants to excel at everything, so my struggle with sports has always been a trial for me. But through that struggle, I’ve realized that jealousy truly gets you nowhere. It hurts you, and it hurts other people; it does no good for anybody. Sure, carnally it is hard to watch someone else succeed if you think that you deserve it more. But that is the wrong attitude. Not being chosen for soccer all-stars that year drove home this lesson to me more than ever before.