Either Or: Heads or tails

Is it better to be the best of the worst, or the worst of the best?

For those of you who didn’t grow up going to Hashomer Hatzair North America or didn’t come across the game Either Or in another setting, this is how it goes: I present two options, you choose one. Kind of like a reader poll.

There is a famous saying in Hebrew that I can never really remember. Something about it’s better to be the tail of something than the head of something else. Basically it means that it’s better to be the worst of the best than the best of the worst.

I have been debating this notion for the past several weeks as I recently moved out of the intermediate French level into the advanced one at La Bagnoire Des Lettres Francaises in Neve Tzedek.

I loved my former classmates and the flow of the lessons. But in the interest of giving myself an extra kick in the behind, I decided to try out the next level. They are really really good. Most of them have lived in France or Belgium. They all know which arrondissement in Paris is the coolest and what metro stop is closest to one or another amazing restaurant. In short, the little confidence I once had has been eaten alive by my new possé of French friends.

I know from my experience with Hebrew learning that confidence is a big component in cutting one’s teeth on a new language. Without it, it’s hard to even ask where the bathroom is. However, being the worst means there is only one direction to go, up. It is also inspiring to spend time around people who speak as I hope to one day speak (one day in like ten years).

So, the sentence about heads or tails… is it better to be the head of something little and friendly or the tail of something big and strong?