Owen’s thoughts held him captive, as if there was a physical force pinning him to a wall, against his very being. This was a secret side of him, a battle. If you stared into his golden brown eyes you’d never comprehend that he had a battle, a battle he shouldn’t have to struggle with. He strived to be the best, to top them all and to stand out. In his mind he was never able to obtain that. Each failure pushed his goal farther away, unreachable.
He had always wished to be the best, to have the top grades, to have the best looks, to have the perfect family; the best of everything. Yet his own self was the reason he couldn’t be the best. His best was shy of what he wished for. The harder he would try, the worse he did. When he slaved over his homework for hours, the grade came up shy of perfect and he got angry with himself and the teacher. Owen made good grades, he was actually very smart yet he wasn’t the best so he wasn’t satisfied. He was always looking toward the future, imagining the best. He always had the best job, the perfect wife, the best friends and even the best life. He was a role model, his friends kids looked up to him and his friends came to him when they were upset. He was always happy and didn’t ever have problems. It was perfection.
It was Wednesday and he had just come from his favorite class, homework had been assigned and he had turned it in to be graded, he knew he hadn’t worked too hard on it, yet he figured he still deserved a good grade. The grade he had received was far from the best. He had made a 60. This would majorly affect his overall grade. This was the one class he needed for his career choice that of course, as a freshman, he had planned out. Maybe he was a little dramatic, but oh well; sometimes dramatic was the best choice. The best, that’s exactly what he needed to choose. To be the best of course you had to choose the best.
He felt awful, he hadn’t made the best choices today. He had been a jerk to his best friend, made a bad grade and said a lot of things he regretted. His best friend was of course “not mad” but deep down he knew that he was. He wasn’t sure how to bring up an apology in the best way. That was all his life revolved around, the best. One could probably say he was a slave, a slave to the best.
The school day had finally ended, after what seemed as forever! Now Owen lay on his bed staring at the ceiling, wishing to cry but knowing he couldn’t because he just couldn’t, that wouldn’t be the best choice. There was that word again, showing up in his mind. Why wouldn’t it ever go away! His life didn’t seem to be that great anymore, he remembered when he didn’t ever worry, just did and was satisfied. His mind now went back a few years, to about third grade. He was sitting in an assembly waiting to be called up for awards. His mom was a teacher so it was expected that he should be excited to receive recognition. “A,B Honor Roll!” He had put his hands on his seat ready to stand when it came around to his last name, he listened and listened. His name was never called. The tears began to pour down his face, he had seen his report card, and he knew he had A’s on it, now he wanted that award! That was when a strive of being the best began. His teacher had tried to comfort him telling him he’d really earned the A Honor Roll and that was better. She said it was coming up. Sure enough, the next awards called out were A Honor Roll, his named was called and a smile spread, he waltzed up and accepted the award, they pinned it on and he stood on stage all proud. He continued to strive for that award until sixth grade; his pride was crushed when he met the one teacher who absolutely disliked giving A’s. Two B’s in one quarter. Every quarter he received B’s from her and her only. The next few years he began making B’s again, he never enjoyed them. They would send a pain through his soul and made him disappointed. He wanted straight A’s. Even though he’d moved on from getting little ribbons, he still wanted to feel that sense of accomplishment. The need to be the best had grown since he was in third grade and now it took over his life.
The next day at school, he set out to do his best and be satisfied with it. That plan went down the drain as soon as he got a bad grade (in his mind) on an English assignment. This would be tough. He couldn’t explain this to his friends; they would see his as dramatic and dumb. He would work this out on his own, if only he knew how. A quote came to mind, “Being the best can enslave you. Being your best can set you free.”
“Hmmmmph….” He touched his chin and tapped, thinking about what that meant and why it even came to his mind. “THAT IS SO TRUE! I feel like a slave! I want to be free!” Six years of enslavement had been way too long, it was time to get the key to the handcuffs that he held back from himself; and to unpin himself, nail by nail he would pull out them and unlock the handcuffs. It was time to be the true him.