Last weekend, a formerly-unknown jazz musician became a worldwide Twitter trend: Esperanza Spalding.
… I know.
I had never heard of her either prior to the Grammys. It was only after I’d caught up with all my celebrity gossip (university life can delay certain priorities) that I realized Justin Bieber, for once, actually got overthrown in the Twitterverse post-red carpet. Of course, there are quite a few ‘Beliebers’ running around saying some nasty things about Esperanza. Which makes me think: do underdogs ever truly win?
Taking account of both physical and emotional considerations, I’m more inclined to say no. Most political and awards settings (even for the youth in cases of student elections and school accolades) seem to have a front-runner, and to be up against such competition can be extremely stressful due to social anticipation. Even if the most unexpected candidate ends up winning, he or she are predisposed to much judgment.
Think about Kris Allen on Season 8 of American Idol. Throughout the year, many thought Adam Lambert was set for the crown and after the surprise results, arguments erupted online over whether or not Kris even had the musical talent. To be criticized so publicly despite winning the title must have evoked rather mixed feelings and that in itself could be damaging to personal morale.
However, not everyone necessarily thinks that way. Being able to overcome others’ expectations can be nice too. I recall one Sports Day back in high school when I was pitted against the best athletes in my year group for the high jump event. Nobody expected me to win anything given my (very obvious) disadvantage in height, and I knew my own friends had already prepared their “good effort” speeches even before the day started. Somehow, I managed to take home a shiny medal and that was all that mattered—defying the odds.
(Then again, getting all the awkward applause that was given out of shock did make me feel pretty unpleasant. Ah, well. Expectations.)
Chow, C. (2013). Underdog!. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/youth/2011/02/underdog/