I Tried So Hard

As my long-time readers know, one of my guilty pleasures is watching competition shows – Project Runway, Master Chef, British Baking Championship. I’ve been binge watching this type of show lately.

I’m noting something I never picked up on before. Inevitably there is the question of why the contestant should be chosen. Just as inevitably, at least one will mention how hard they had worked. That gets up my hackles every time.

Everyone worked their hardest, plus it is completely irrelevant. Someone could spend days/weeks/a lifetime working on something, and that doesn’t guarantee it will be better than something someone else through together at the last minute. should the successful scrambler be punished for lack of time spent working on a project despite having a superior product in the end? Of course not.

I remember having a debate with my high school biology teacher about this topic. Now I realize he was trying to promote self esteem, and so he was telling us that all that could be expected from us was to do our best. I asked what if our best wasn’t good enough. His response, a little sharper than normal for his jovial self was, “By definition you best is good enough.”

In my memory he then gave me a look reminiscent of my ma’s. Whether that really happened or not, I dropped the subject, having to be content knowing I was right.

I wasn’t even trying to be argumentative. At that point I’d been in speech and debate for two years, giving it my all, with little to show for it. While that didn’t make me want to quit, I was VERY aware that one’s best wasn’t always enough to get the desired result.


Now I can see how both of us were right. Our best is all that we can realistically expect from ourselves … AND if we are looking for external validation, it is possible that that output doesn’t reach the expected level. The challenge is how we react when faced with that shortfall.

Wow! We can count this as another hijacked blog post. I set out to simply pick on contestants for whining and myself for watching it. This turned out so much more interesting … at least to me.

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