Not Being the Best, or my UKYABA Declination Speech

For a long time at school, I was the best. Not because I was particularly intelligent – I am, but not off-par with my peers – but because I was relatively studious. I’m lazy, and I learned early on that if I listened to teachers and lessons the first time round, I wouldn’t have to study the second time. It was easier to devote my full attention during lessons than to try and figure it out for myself afterwards. So I cruised through primary and secondary school with relative ease, scoring full marks several times in science tests aged 8 and 9 and achieving some pretty good GCSE results.

For a long time, my self-worth was dependent on my grade, my academic ability and my prospects. A successful me was a me that did better than anyone else, someone who was consistently better at everything than everyone else.

It didn’t last. By the time AS levels came around, people around me were catching up. I was no longer the brightest student. I listened in class, mostly, and I still engaged, but I was a little bit too lazy. I was good, but I could have been better if I had put in a bit more work. I didn’t want to put in a bit more work because I’m lazy and had better things to do (blogging! Reading! Theatre!). So I conceded.

I am not the best. There are people who are more talented than I am, who are better than me at the things I want to do. It took me a long time to be okay with this. I am not the best in the world; at anything, let alone everything. I will not be a best-selling novelist or a Nobel Prize Winner. Or, for that matter, a critically acclaimed filmmaker or producer; probably. There are countless people who are better than me at all those things. It is okay not to be the best.

I am honoured to have been nominated for the UKYA Blogger Awards. I am pleased to see that people who are really good at what they do are being recognised. But you know what? Today I spent an hour and a half talking to my dad about my childhood, and his, and everything possible in between. I am dating a boy I want to spend the rest of my life with. I have friends I dearly miss (which is better than having friends and not missing them) and am looking forward to a wonderful year travelling the world, meeting new people and starting university. Every day I spend time talking to some of the friendliest people on twitter about books, and reading, and blogging. I get emails from publishers on a weekly basis asking me if I want to read their books – for free. When I tell this to people, they are amazed. It IS amazing. Every day I spend talking to authors, industry professionals, bookbloggers, booktubers, readers, reviewers. It is an honour to have all those things, to be connected to all those people, to know that I am valued by all those people.

I may not be the best; I may not even be second-best. But you know what? I have more fun being part of this community – and many others – than I will ever have from any of my achievements. It is an honour to have been nominated for the awards; it is an even greater honour to spend time with you guys. Thank you for valuing me; here’s to year’s more fun and reading.

About Rhys

Rhys is a 19 year old with roots in the UK and Germany. Aside from reading and blogging, he also produces theatre, loves Kate Bush and hopes to pursue a career in publishing. His reviews have been widely quoted in books such as Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet, Catherine Bruton’s Pop!, James Treadwell’s Advent and Anarchy and he has presented at such events as Book Expo America.

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