Every kid who has ever been good at anything has, at some point, learned a tough lesson about ego. So many movies follow the intrepid underdog on his way to victory and joy, but this leaves us ill prepared when the underdog upsets us. Few things can rattle the foundation of one's psyche so violently as the ego collapsing in upon itself. If the ego is big enough, it could potentially form a mental black hole of introversion, sucking in any thought that is even somewhat related to the fall from grace. That is exactly where I found myself several years ago.
I had assumed myself the victor before the competition even began, and nature abhors an asshole. For the first time, I had found myself on the receiving end of someone else's underdog story. It shattered me. The good thing about being shattered though, is that once you get over the pain, you can start to put yourself back together. If you do it right, you may just find that the pieces fit back together a bit differently than they had before. You fix yourself and make yourself better.
I was fortunate to have a second chance at the same competition. After failing the first time, I practiced harder than I ever have before. The second time, I earned my ego, but I threw it out anyway. Who needs an ego when you're happy with the way you are?