Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why We Like the Underdog

For those of you not watching the World Cup, something pretty spectacular happened a few days ago.  The USA is in the same group as several very great and well renowned teams.  Most people thought the USA’s chances were about zero.  In fact, the coach didn’t even have any expectations of winning.

That’s why it was so spectacular when the USA beat Ghana.   No one expected it, and somehow, that team overcame everyone’s doubt.  My husband watched the game at his school, and took a video of the reaction when the game ended. 

The overwhelming response is actually quite overwhelming, the shouts, the flags, the celebration – it shows that when someone can overcome the greatest of challenges, the response is even greater. 
Who wants to root for the winning, obvious champion?  Probably a lot of people.  But does the victory mean the same thing when they’re already expected to win?   The constant struggle, the uphill climb is something that everyone can relate to.  We all understand that feeling.

I remember my first semester of college, I was in the lowest Spanish class available.  I wasn’t too concerned, I’d already taken three years of Spanish in high school, and I’d studied on my own.  The first day, we were given a pretest to determine our knowledge of the language.  Needless to say, I failed.  I couldn’t even figure out what the test wanted me to do.  A few days later, my teacher pulled me aside and told me that it would be better if I just drop the class, because there was no way that I could keep up.


I probably should have listened to her, but for some reason, I took that as a challenge.  I studied on my own, I went to the park and practiced speaking with complete strangers.  I read books in Spanish, and I spent every spare moment trying to get a handle on the language.  My first midterm, I failed.  But I still didn’t drop the class.  My second midterm, I got a C. 

One little grade just gave me so much hope.  I’d actually been able to pass.  I kept going, and I ended up getting an A on my final, and with homework, I managed to pull an A- that semester.  Not only that, I became fluent in the language.  I probably wouldn’t even remember that much about the class if I hadn’t have struggled and worked so hard.  And I wouldn’t have been so proud of my grade if I didn’t have to raise it from a failing grade.

I hope that I put my characters through the same thing.  I hope that life isn’t so easy that there’s never a challenge.  I want them to grow and struggle.