I think it’s fair to say that in this day and age, being an underdog makes you more likable. Everyone is always cheering for them. Think about the Tortoise, the Little Engine Who Could, Cinderella, to name a few. All of them started with a huge disadvantage, but overcame the odds, and showed everyone that they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to. Being an underdog means that the expectations for you are set so low that even a small accomplishment can be seen as a huge step. For me personally, I always felt a detachment from wanting to be the underdog, but I wind up there more often than not. It goes both ways. Sometimes, I appreciate it because then I can blow people away without necessarily intending to, but at the same time, I sometimes do prefer to be seen as the titan that others have trouble toppling; with cooking, running, and accounting, I am more than comfortable with having a huge target on my back.
The biggest reason why I am normally against being the underdog is that I don’t want to feel disadvantaged. I like to know that I am somebody who can set the bar. However, there are times when I am that person and others just use me as a stepping stone. It happened throughout high school. People assumed I was smart for the first two years, and then whenever they’d do better than me on a test or in a class, they’d basically announce that they beat me. So towards the end of high school and the beginning of college, I slinked my way into being the underdog. The scrappy fighter. At first, it sucked. I felt like it was now on me to prove to everyone who got ahead of me that I am not completely worthless and that I am not just a baseline for others to surpass.
The thing about being the underdog is that it is a natural motivator for most people. You don’t want to be seen as the weakest link, but when word gets around that you might be, then you just push yourself as hard as possible, and you’ll even surprise yourself with the end results. That’s how I went from being the underdog back to being the target. And the best part of it was, rather than being nervous or cocky about being the target, I just kept my head down for the most part, and literally everyone was terrified of me when it came to Food and Beverage or Accounting. I still remember one of the seniors assumed I was in his year when I was a junior because of how put-together and capable I seemed. He admitted to me that he was intimidated by me and was relieved that he didn’t have to compete against me for jobs. Looking back on that, it was funny. And being better than that is where I am aiming now.
Like I said, I hate being the underdog. It’s basically like trying to run in heels, or play hide and seek blindfolded. I feel like everyone is looking at me, expecting me to fail or fall flatter than I already have. Having attention is already annoying for me, but when it’s bad attention, it’s frustrating. And that’s fine. Because everyone thought I was going to fail in the past, and I completely disproved them. I am more than ready to do that again. So if I have to be the underdog, that’s fine. I will adopt that mantle, wear it to the best of my ability, and make my way back to the top again. That’s just what life, and economics, are. Ups and downs. A continuous cycle. It’s up to me to learn how to control that cycle, and capitalize on my ups, while minimizing my downs.