Black and White, not Almost

Like my other colleagues here at Mysteristas, I consider “almost” a tough concept. Mostly, because it’s usually such a negative little animal.

I’ve had an especially difficult time with “almost” for most of my life, specifically because of what I’ve chosen to do.

When I was a child, “almost” was a huge problem because I was a competitive gymnast.

Almost doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to complete a skill, not wobble, and basically be the epitome of perfection for a few difficult minutes.

Managing to almost avoid taking a step on that landing isn’t much of a consolation when crying into your 2nd place ribbon.

Believe me.

Then, as an adult, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I started my professional newspaper career as a copy editor.

For those who don’t know, it’s a copy editor’s job to find errors, inconsistencies and holes in things other people write.

Basically, your job is to be perfect.

And if you miss something or, heaven forbid, add an error? Daggers to you.

There are no pats on the back for almost catching that missed comma or wrong number.

And, for an extra level of difficulty, copy editors have very little time to achieve this perfection, yet it is a crime to almost make deadline. You’ve got to make it, people. No almost about it.

Finally, running filled the athletic void left when I quit gymnastics, and, as an adult, I run marathons and ultramarathons. There is no almost in foot races.

There is a finish line.

There are other competitors who will finish before or after you.

And, in some of the ultramarathons I’ve done, there are cut-off times. Either you make it a checkpoint or the finish in time or you don’t.

No room for almost anywhere.

I like to think of myself as a pretty positive person, but it’s just impossible for me to believe there’s anything good with almost. Turns out that it’s hard to re-train one’s brain from the negative connotations to almost.

Once they’ve crept their way in, those connotations are pretty darn sticky. You might even say they’re almost impossible to remove.


7 thoughts on “Black and White, not Almost”

  1. Yes! As a former competitive swimmer, I am in complete agreement. Almost winning = not winning. Almost breaking a record = not breaking a record. But as Pamela pointed out last Monday, the Broncos almost won the big game last Sunday. How? They were one of 2 teams to make it that far. I think we need to recalibrate our definition of almost!


  2. I never did competitive anything – never that motivated. But my kids are swimmers. My son competes with taekwondo. I am reminded of the saying, “Close (almost) only counts in horse shoes, hand grendades, and strategic nuclear weapons.” But as Pamela said, and Diane reminded us, maybe it’s time to re-calibrate our definition of “almost.”


  3. I use to show horses and I absolutely HATED second place. I didn’t mind third, really, because that meant there was a definite need for improvement and I had things to work on. Fair enough. But second? It just made me feel like the 1st loser.


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