"You go back to Brakebills. You graduate. You spend your life as a second-rate magician. Many do. Probably you never realize it. Even the fact that you failed is beyond your ability to comprehend."
Quentin had no intention of letting that happen to him, though it occurred to him that probably nobody actually set out to have that happen to them, and, statistically speaking, it had to happen to somebody. The hash browns no longer tasted quite so scrumptious. He put his fork down.--The Magicians, Lev Grossman
The above is a photograph of the exposed innards of a sandwich from Murray's Cheese Shop. It does not look like a second-rate sandwich. It was. But I ate it all anyway. Story of my life.
Quentin's right: Nobody intends to live a second-rate life. It just happens, even to the best of us. That thought alone is enough to make even the most bangin', sizzling hash browns into unappetizing fare.