"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure...than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." -Theodore Roosevelt
I've always known how competitions work, that sometimes I win and other times I lose. Nevertheless, I guess, it isn't enough to simply know what something means. Most of the time, you also need to have a profound understanding of what that something feels like and how you should cope with whatever that something brings. When I was in high school, I've always been at the bottom of the wheel and whenever I was near the peak, I would slide and plummet back down to the same desolating place where I was. I remember winning a couple of competitions, one is a debate competition and another is an essay writing competition, but second best was the highest I could ever be. Whenever I tried to go farther than that, I always failed. Whether it was a writing or a speaking competition, for some reason, I couldn't make my way on top. After realizing that I had become so sore about losing, I completely dropped my drive and lowered my goals. I lowered them down into what I thought was realistic and attainable. Being third or being second was already good enough for me and being first had turned to be an impossibility. In other words, I thought I wasn't good enough to do great things. With that in mind, I decided to dream small because I thought I was small. I thought that this big world that I live in had no place for a mediocre guy like me.
After graduating from high school, I've grown to believe that failing had made me numb. I was convinced, based on the numerous failures that I had been through in high school that there would be no failure that could make me shed another tear. I was ready to face the bigger world, I managed to utter in my mind while I tried to prepare myself for college. When I stepped into a known state university, I joined another debate competition and as normal as the sun rises and sets, I had once again found myself sprawling on the ground. It was nothing to me though. It didn't mean anything to me anymore. I felt bad about losing again but it didn't take awhile before I was able to get over it. In other words, I didn't take losing seriously because I led myself to believe that losing was something that I was good at. It might sound to have no sense at all but I was sadly happy that I labelled myself to be a guy who grew up to be very good at losing.
Not until I transferred to another school and joined a competition called Tagisan ng Talino. This time, I joined an essay writing competition. I was all giddy and shaky while the champion was seconds away from being introduced. For the very first time since I lost my drive to win something big, I felt a sudden urge to win. I guess, I got tired of beating myself down. I got tired of always cleaning the dirt off myself that I got from the ground. I wanted to win so bad. I thought it would be good for the rebuilding of my confidence. Then all of sudden my name was called and I felt like a choir of angels descended from heaven and started singing for me and for my victory. For the very first time in my entire existence, my talent was recognized and that someone had seen something in what I wrote and had put me on top. It was a very nice feeling being up there and for a first-timer like me, I wanted to tie myself up and never let anything or anyone take my away from where I was at that time. My climb to the top was a continuous process until I reached the National level and was declared the champion. I was the National Champion in essay writing. After that win, I knew that God had saved that moment just for me. I understand now what all those failures meant. Those failures that I had to endure was a preparation for that grandest win. All those losing and crying paved way to the highest achievement I have gotten so far.
Just last night, the same competition came around. I wanted to defend my school's title. I wanted to win again so bad. There were a lot of people counting on me. They added to the pressure that I was carrying all throughout the competition but despite of it all, no pressure stopped me from going far and beyond. However, after all that's been said and done, once again, I found myself on the ground. From being tied up on top, I was back to the place where I lost all my confidence in myself. After losing the title and knowing that I will not be able to compete in the next level of the competition, everybody kept saying that it was alright, but nobody knew how desperately I wanted to win. It was very important for me to keep the title because I was still in the process of rebuilding my confidence and for that failure to come in so swiftly was heart-breaking. After congratulating everybody and telling them that I was fine. For the very first time, I cried. There's nothing in my history of losing that I cried once but I felt devastated that caused me to get rid of some tears that had been kept all my life because of losing.
After the most difficult night of my life, I woke up with a sense of change. I felt like I knew a part of me that I never knew before. I thought I was going to go back to that depressing place where I would tend to underestimate myself. I woke up and have finally gotten over everything that happened last night. I guess, I am a brand new me now with a new and profound understanding of failure and of myself. Last night, I learned that winning isn't everything and failing isn't my life's ending.
The most important thing that counts, whether you win or you lose is the experience that you gained along the way and the lessons you learned from the journey.
Mr. Migz asked me yesterday, "What will happen if you win?" and I answered him, "I'll be the happiest man on earth." and then he asked me another question, "What will happen if you lose?", and I said, "Then I'll be the saddest man on earth.".
I was wrong Mr. Migz when I said that I will be the saddest man on earth when I lose. I just realized that a man who loses in a competition, will be a stronger and wiser man in the long run.
Photo from: unsoundtransient of www.flickr.com
Photo from: unsoundtransient of www.flickr.com