In this result-driven world, it’s a sad reality: your best will not always be enough. You could get fired from your job, lose a competition, fail an exam, or simply not cut it. Did you give it your best? Yes. But those who think that simply giving your best is sufficient to succeed will be shocked.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t pursue every endeavor with the best of our capabilities. Sometimes, the line separating success from failure can be quite narrow. If you succeed without giving it all you have, then well and good. But what if you failed and you didn’t give it your best? Can you live with the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens in your life? A man who fails but gives it his best has nothing to regret. A man who fails but has much more to offer will be trapped.
In anime, there are a lot of protagonists who give it all they have, yet still lose in a fight. At that point, there are two options open to them. One is to pursue a different career, a different passion, perhaps something else where they can utilize their God-given talents. That’s not necessarily a failure in itself, merely a realization that you’re better suited for something else. There’s a theory after all that says human beings are most happy when their skills and talents are put to good use. The other option is to persist. So what if you didn’t succeed this time? There’s always tomorrow, and the day after that. You try and try until you get it right. In anime shows like Dragonball Z or Yu Yu Hakusho, the heroes simply don’t give up, they do something about it. They train themselves so that they get better. If your best right now is not enough to succeed, then maybe your best tomorrow will be. If not on day one, then on day two. If not on day two, then on day three and so on.
As a child, I loved to draw but I never had any talent in it. I’ve met some artists, and while some are indeed blessed with talent, others will claim that they aren’t talented, but merely practiced and worked hard. For someone as untalented in drawing as me, it might sound unbelievable, and it’s not like I didn’t try. However, the truth of the matter is, my heart wasn’t really into drawing. Did I like it? Yes. But did my life revolve around it? No. Now writing, on the other hand, is another matter. Again, much like drawing, I also didn’t have any real talent in it. I’m no writing prodigy. My highest grades in high school were in CLE (Christian Life Education) and sometimes in Math and Science (although these will also be the very subjects that I failed). I wasn’t really writing as a kid. In fact, the only time I truly began to write was during high school, and I was horrible. Even to this day, I have no talent in writing. You could ask my Creative Writing classmates or my professors. I was adequate enough, but my writing never really stood out. At least not at the start. I did everything to get better, despite what detractors might say. I wrote, rewrote, edited, proofread, attended workshops, even prayed. While gifted people are out there, not everyone are as blessed with such talents. Sometimes, you have to create your talent, hone it, and develop it yourself.
This isn’t a success story. Sometimes, my best is not enough. It’s not good enough to be read by my friends, it’s not good enough to win an award, not good enough to be included in an anthology, not good enough to be accepted by a publisher. But what happens next is your choice. Sometimes, you decide you’ve had enough, and it’s time to move on. At other times, you don’t give up. You simply don’t give it your best shot, you try and develop at getting better, so that your best today is better than your best yesterday.
And perhaps, in the end, it’s not about results, despite what the world might tell you. It’s a story of man versus himself. At the end of the day, it’s yourself you have to live with. One can take pride in triumphing easily, but the best-savored victories are usually those won with difficulty. Sometimes, it’s not even about winning, but testing yourself, at seeing how far you can push yourself to the limits. Your best might not be enough, but it’s what happens after that that the real test begins. Or our best may never be enough (such as a doctor trying to stave off death), but it’s all we can humanly give. The one thing I can be sure of is that if I don’t give it my best, then I might regret it in the future.