We can only base our opinions of our skills on our own experiences. If we're the best at something among the people we know, it seems like a safe bet to think that we're pretty good at that thing.
Sometimes, when we venture out into the wide world, we discover that that couldn't have been further from the truth.
Reddit user u/Squidkiller28 asked:
10. It Boggles The Mind
I was the best Boggle player in my universe as a child. I'd take on whole rooms of people as a party trick (i.e. everyone else vs. me). Then the internet existed, and boggle-style games popped up online, and I found out I was only the 783rd best Boggle player in the world...on that website...at that moment.
9. Do You Know Lasers?
When I interviewed for my current job at an aerospace firm, the 3 interviewers asked me to work at a whiteboard while describing my research. My research involved laser physics, and while starting to draw I tried to gauge their knowledge level, and being kinda nervous I asked "Do you guys know lasers?" They just looked at me and said yeah, so I kept going.
Unbeknownst to me, one of them was a laser physics PhD with 20 years of high energy laser experience, one of them was chief space systems architect at the company that specialized in ground to space laser communication systems, and the other was a space systems department head.
Months later, I was working on a project for the laser communications guy, who was basically giving me a crash course on atmospheric optics, and I started laughing because I remembered the time I asked him "do you know lasers?".
8. Not Even One
Ping pong. I've never lost to anyone I've ever met or any of my friends, until one day I went to a ping pong club that met at a high school gym. The guy that managed the club was ex-olympics and I couldn't score a single point on the worst player there.
7. Learn To Appreciate Progress
Fencing. I would show up to open competitions and cruise through everyone. Started going to actual sanctioned events and was absolutely destroyed.
I loved it though. When you get eliminated in the first round of eliminations for long enough, you really appreciate the small bits of progress you make. Like getting to the second round.
Smash Brothers Melee in the pre-internet (pre online smash I should say) days. I'm pretty good at the game for the normal person and could easily beat all my friends as Samus without trying. I talked myself up so much and was all "oh man I'm so good at this game!"
...Until a buddy of mine ended up meeting through another friend a ranked Smash player. Not even a high ranked player. Just some guy who was "kinda sorta good". Yea well holy sh*t. He beat me down without breaking a sweat. It wasn't even a close match at all. None of the matches we played were.
It was that day I learned there are 2 levels of experience for fighting games. "Normal/casual" and "pro".
5. They'd Just Get Frustrated
Played at a lan party with a friend who was a top half-life 2 player. We were casuals & he was of course untouchable & super-deadly. I took a break & sat next to him to watch him play. He was basically not playing the game; he was just practicing weird/glitchy movement techniques & scoping people's heads but not shooting them. He only deigned to kill someone when they threatened to bump him from first place. "They'd just get frustrated with the game if I actually was trying to kill them."
4. Everyone Else Too
SNES Mario Kart. I thought I was an unstoppable f*cking machine. That was basically THE game. I played it daily for years.
Got to college.
So had...everyone else.
3. It's All In The Eye Of The Beholder
Photography, (as an amateur... I would never compare myself to a pro). I do decent pictures, I have a good eye for detail etc.
One of my friend bought himself a camera, same style as mine (Reflex). No previous photography experience with that kind of camera.
My god. The pictures he does are pure, perfect, full of emotions and just esthetically amazing. Without any need of filtering or photoshop.
2. Keep Shreddin'
I was a decent midwest snowboarder in the late 90s. Not great mind you, but pretty good by my local mountain standards.
Moved out west and the first week I went riding with a guy from ak. We built a booter in the backcountry. I hit it and did some lame trick. He climbed up way higher than me, straitghtlined it and busted a gnarly backside rodeo. First time off the kicker. Stomped the landing.
I knew right there that I was not a good snowboarder.
1. Pattern Recognition
Computers. I thought I was a pretty smart guy, good with computers and whatnot. Then I went to college to learn software development. That's where I met the real geniuses. I learned that I was just good at pattern recognition, but not actually that good at abstract thinking and creating new information. Watching a guy half my age get ABOVE 100% in most of the classes I struggled to pass was an eye opener.
Epilogue: I discovered that my talent for pattern recognition made me a fantastic QA person, and I have a great career fixing the mistakes of people way smarter than me. I spend all day nitpicking their code and they thank me for it.