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View Poll Results: Would you rather be the best of the worst of the worst of the best?
Best of the worst 9 50.00%
Worst of the best 9 50.00%
Voters: 18. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-05-2011, 07:59 PM
Location: VA
549 posts, read 1,690,498 times
Reputation: 334


Obviously everyone would want to be the best of the best... but if you had to pick one, which would you rather be? Would you rather be the best of the worst or the worst of the best?

Some examples:
The richest of the poor or the poorest of the rich. You can live in a poor neighborhood but have the nicest house, car, clothes, etc or you can live in among the affluent but not fit in, in any other fashion.

The best athlete in a small university or the worst player of a big school. You can be the star of an unknown university but likely never be scouted or you can be a career backup (and never see the field) for national champions.

The alpha male of losers or the beta male of the cool crowd. You can be the guy everyone looks up to (but given the people, does it really say much?) or you can be the guy nobody notices in a crowd full of people everyone notice.

I understand that everything isn't black and white, but some things are. I've seen both situations and they each have their perks. Being the best strokes your ego and being the worst makes you strive to do/be better. What are your thoughts though? Feel free to post specific scenarios.
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:16 PM
Location: NYC
7,371 posts, read 12,316,596 times
Reputation: 10279
Interesting question. I flip flopped several times as I read the post. In the end, I decided I'd choose to be the big fish in the small pond. I think over time, your view of the world settles on the mundane parts of your own day to day life, and so it is easy to forget that you could be doing something "better." I'd imagine if I lived in the nicest house in the poor neighborhood, I'd simply enjoy my nice house and not think about how it could be better if I lived somewhere else. I can make the same case for all of your examples.
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:23 PM
Location: Tucson
42,837 posts, read 77,111,830 times
Reputation: 22814
Hard to say... In real estate the advice is to buy the cheapest house in the best neighborhood. In a way it makes sense in all areas of life as it changes the quality of people around you, which gives you an opportunity to advance even more. However, that may or may not happen and being the big fish in the small pond might make you happier.

Let's say you go on vacation to Somalia. Yes, that's an extreme example, but I'm using it for illustrative purposes. You'll have an interesting time, but you'll return happy and relieved you have it better. On the other hand, if you go to Western Europe and see how other people have lives and you don't, even if you had a wonderful time there, you'd come back depressed.
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:58 PM
1,206 posts, read 2,451,057 times
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I rather be king of the bums then the lowest amongst the rich. By nature we judge our well being by comparing with others. A psych study has shown that people rather be making 40k in a 20k making neighborhood, then making 100k in a neighborhood making 200k.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:02 PM
Location: state of procrastination
3,487 posts, read 6,125,682 times
Reputation: 2883
I've contemplated this question many times. Currently I feel as if I am the worst of the best intellectually. It is a difficult position to be in and sustain when everyone around you is 10x faster and smarter. I could have an easier life doing an easy job somewhere, but ultimately I think what matters is to be surrounded by people who are great. Then you can step on the shoulders of giants, absorb some of their greatness, learn from them, challenge yourself. Though I must act humbly at all times (and I am really not that humble in any other circumstance) I am still appreciative that I am surrounded by totally amazing people.

There was a time when I was the best of the worst. I was 1st chair, 2nd violin in an honors orchestra. I knew I should be mid to bottom ranked 1st violins, but unfortunately I had a suspicion that they needed me in the 2nd violin position to hold together that section. I felt angry, dejected, and held back but there was also this sense of great responsibility / burden. Eventually I stopped practicing, quit, and moved on with my life. So I think being the best of the worst is really horrible. Not only do you have added responsibilities as a leader, but you don't get any recognition for it.

I was valedictorian of my high school. I had some pretty academically mediocre peers, who would always praise me for getting the highest scores. However there was no joy, only emptiness to know that I am not truly in competition with anyone who is worthy of competition. Going to one of the nation's top colleges the situation flipped, and I became the worst of the best. That was very difficult as well, trying to keep up. But the fact of having been associated with one of the best school has carried me very far. People make assumptions that because I come from there, I am automatically a "genius" when in reality I'd say I'm above average. So while it felt bad to be amongst the lowest of the best, it still carried great benefits which last to the current day.

And being on the low end of rich is much better. Because you still have more money than those who are the best of the poor. So what if people laugh at you. So what if you can't go out with your ultra-rich friends. It sure beats the alternative.

Last edited by miyu; 01-05-2011 at 09:12 PM..
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:38 PM
Location: Maryland
130 posts, read 288,455 times
Reputation: 151
This reminds me of an article I read in the NY Times. It is about these millionaires who feel poor amongst their peers because they don't have the biggest house, perks, etc...It really is a bad situation either way. I think one will always end up moving out the smaller pond into a bigger pond. Like, for how long would a person be satisfied as the richest of the poor? They will go out in town and see the "other side" and yearn to be there.

For me, I would rather be the small fish in the big pond than the other way around. It means that I tried my best or am reaching my greatest potential. It's like choosing to take hard classes over easier ones. You can take an easy class and score a 100% with little effort or get an 85% in a harder class but know you worked your butt off. In terms of the "poor" millionaires in the article, they are still much better off than most. They are truly living at a higher standard than the majority of people. I would rather be a poor "rich" than a rich "poor". Then I would get such perks as a better education for any children I may have, better grocery stores, lower crime, modern amenities, and so forth. In essence, I would have an overall better quality of life than if I chose to stay the queen of the slums someplace.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:58 PM
Location: Middle America
35,817 posts, read 39,346,783 times
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Small ponds have never bothered me. I don't tie my worth to how I fit into the pond's ecosystem, be it a big or small one.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:34 AM
Location: Between Philadelphia and Allentown, PA
5,077 posts, read 12,705,610 times
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I'd rather just be me and not worry about fitting into any stereotype or what's expected of me according to other people. I don't try to be anything other than me and have always maintained that view on life.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:45 AM
Location: The Hall of Justice
25,907 posts, read 34,973,454 times
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This is a very interesting question, and everyone has given great replies that have made me change my mind a few times. In the end, I agree with mizdesigner. A good friend of mine refers to her house as the worst house in the best neighborhood where she lives, and I know she receives the benefits of better schools, lower crime, better resale value of her house, and an overall better life than if she had the nicest home in a cruddy area. I know that doesn't exactly translate into one's personal life, such as being mediocre among fascinating and accomplished people, but I think that would be better than being surrounded by mundane people who do not interest me. Obviously real life is not so black and white, but we are dealing with a theoretical situation.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:57 AM
23,903 posts, read 31,130,282 times
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I should probably put more thought more thought into it before responding, but I need to get to work! I think I'd be happier being the worst of the best. The real estate analogy sort of fits where I live, and I enjoy the benefits of not having to worry about a dangerous neighborhood, riff-raff, poor schools, etc. I think that would probably translate into my life as well, if I had to choose.
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