It’s that momentous feeling, that flow of energy like a river surging on its course at full speed sending vibrations through every fiber of your body. The instant when you can fully enjoy your success is a sensation which is hard to duplicate or define, difficult to grasp in its existential moment. I loved this feeling of winning.
To me, it was the only representation of the results of my hard work. It was a way to pinpoint the exact reason why I had put in so much time and energy for a cause whose purpose often times lay vaguely in front of my eyes, the vision of it obscured by the sound of my coach’s blaring voice echoing in my head and my feelings of utter physical and mental exhaustion. It was that knowledge that my team was of the very best ranking which I depended on. For to me it stood for everything I had worked so hard for.
Indeed, winning seemed to be my only goal. It was during my experience in the Junior Olympics last summer that these feelings of accomplishment were heightened; I was never prouder to be a member of a group of people and the end of six days signified more the commence of a new outlook on life rather than the end of an experience. It is curious, then, that the results of my team’s efforts did not on paper reflect that intangible feeling of success; no, we had not won the gold medal we were competing for and I had not heard our team announced as the top in our division.
Yet the deficiency of those bold tally marks on our score sheet signifying our wins somehow presented to me a paradox: all of my input — ”the hours, the love, the sweat” — all seemed so much more meaningful because we hadn’t won. I had taken out of my experience an invaluable truth, which I don’t think I would have had my team won that medal. In my involvement in an event as competitive and demanding as the Junior Olympics for volleyball, I had transformed from a narrow-minded boy to a young adult who is now able to understand that I should be able to draw satisfaction with my efforts not always from the final outcome, but from the road along the way.
I had participated in an event which introduced me to new realms of anxiety and pressure. I was balancing school with practices, physical strain with mental fatigue, yet I was depended on as a leader and as a valuable member of a group of people who I came to share more personal experiences with other than the sport. In our six days in Minneapolis, we bonded immensely and I discovered so much more about the teammates who were once strangers to me.
Today, as I stare at that score sheet, I don’t imagine more of those black horizontal and diagonal lines which should have been there last summer — I imagine the ones which could possibly be fill that white sheet in next year’s competition. Having worked perhaps even harder in preparation for my last year as a Junior Olympics competitor, I have again learned even more about life and about my own character. I don’t need to win to feel that I am a winner; I can still sense that flow of exhilaration at the end of an experience, regardless of the outcome.
Indeed, exerting as much energy as I am capable of and extending to my fullest potential is a success in itself. I have already won.
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