Odds Come Stacked, Really High

Why is it so satisfying when an underdog wins? Is it because we like when someone beats the odds even though we (as a society) created them? We like when expectations are thwarted even though we (as a society) set them? We like the little, disadvantaged contestants with big dreams and even bigger hearts even though we (as a–you know) idolize the privileged ones?

But nearly everyone starts as the underdog, right? With few exceptions, success is usually very much earned after plentiful blood, sweat and tears. At least that’s my perception. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. You have to start on the bottom and work your way up. You have to work in the trenches for a while, finding talent, gaining skills, keeping goals and striving to improve every day. I always seem to be hoping for something better—whether in healthcare or writing. I root for the underdog because every day I feel that pressure to beat the odds, to rise above a collective mediocrity, and resist the temptation to fall into complacency and give up.

As a nurse, I feel like the underdog just about every shift; hoping I won’t fall behind or have delicate issues that demand more time, trying to find that elusive sliver of time to take a thirty minute lunch break. The chances of getting everything I’d like to get done (i.e. spend time with patients, aggressive mobility, thorough education, etc.) actually done? My guess is one or two shifts in a year (shhh, don’t tell my nursing students). But I’m not kidding. If I manage to clock out on time, that’s a victory to celebrate—the underdog beats the odds!

And as a new writer seeking publication, underdog is an under-statement. Wendy Keller, a literary agent, posted this gem of reality on her website: “Agencies like mine typically reject 99.5% of everything they see. Out of close to 500 queries a month we receive, we invite perhaps 50 proposals for review. Out of that fifty, perhaps one or sometimes two is ready to be delivered to publishers.” Another site suggested the odds are 1,000 to 1. Another was slightly more favorable at 5%–they must have been having a great hair day. As you can see the odds are stacked really, really, about-to-topple over high.

So, hats off to the underdogs who keep moving ahead with big dreams and big hearts, knowing full well the odds are tough, but are not afraid to try. Or, like me, are really afraid, but do it anyway.