Since we were kids we had numerous intra and inter school events. There always were winners and losers, there were a few extraordinary candidates who excelled in more than one of such events and a few who were specialists in just one field, but they never lost at it, but then there were few who did not win anything, me for instance. My brother was one of those extraordinary students who swooped in and won everything he participated in with ease. He had those amazing trophies to his name. Only later, I realized that what seemed to come so easy to him was supported by days of hard work, which was overlooked by everyone, including me. I was unaware of what I was doing wrong. He was my brother, “if he could do it then so could I” was all that was running on my mind.

My parents and teachers were proud of him, I was too. Probably a little envious but after all he was my brother, a true friend and the best inspiration a brother can ask for. One professor even went as far as to say that there was no comparison between me and my brother but that was for academics in which he was better than me again, duh. Whenever I lost, people around me kept telling me that winning and losing is secondary but participating is what matters. That was like rubbing salt into my wounds. That was never what I wanted to hear. I didn’t participate to lose. If I knew I would lose I wouldn’t participate at all. I couldn’t take a loss gracefully. I did not like the fact that people of my age group were winning and celebrating while I was told to continue participating.

I had lost interest in medals and trophies. I wanted to prove it to everyone that I’ve had enough of participating, and winning is all I wanted. I was obsessed.  I wanted to go up to that professor and ask her if she could compare us now.

So when I was in twelfth grade I was in the volleyball team and we were considered the underdogs. And of course I wasn’t confident about winning either but I had honed my skills in the game. I had gotten myself fit and I was trembling with excitement to go up against the best in my school and believe you me, there were some brilliant players. We were the only team that had a girl on our squad and the other teams had a good laugh at us for that.

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There were four teams in the knockout tournament which meant we could not afford to lose a single match. Let’s call the 4 teams Red, Yellow, Blue and Green. There were three sets and a team had to win two to qualify. Yellow and Blue who were favorites had to go up against each other in the first match and we had to play against red. I hope you figured out the team I was on. Blue defeated Yellow with relative ease. We defeated red in straight sets so we were happy that we would at least get second place but then those past memories came flashing back to me and I knew this wasn’t over from a long shot and all the happiness turned into spirit to win it.

The most pivotal position was occupied by the girl who was laughed at and the way she played that day would have changed everyone’s perception about girls. It was a treat playing alongside her. My team looked determined to win.

Finally, the match started. The blue team defeated us in the first set. Smashes here, serves there and some shots with the greatest of finesse. I could hear some people talk about how easily Blue would defeat us and we were in the final only because we didn’t have to face Blue or Yellow in the first round. Then there was change in court, we spoke to each other, we said let’s stop thinking about it too much and just try to keep it simple. That was when Monica (the girl on our team) came into her groove. She kept getting us valuable points at regular intervals. There was this well-built guy who just kept smashing the ball hard but I received four to five smashes and sent it back to the other court and we won that set comfortably. The last and the final set started with both teams wanting to give it their all. In the end, the blue team were on game point and we were three points behind them, we kept pushing and reached a deuce, both the teams needed two points to seal victory. I couldn’t think of anything, I couldn’t hear the crowd, everything was blank. My team, I’m sure felt the same. They scored a point, then we scored a point and it went on for a while. Then finally something unthinkable happened. The best assist and smash from our team happened at that point, and there was no better time for it to come. It was unbelievable. We had won the game. We just stood there for a second and when the referee blew the final whistle we realized that we did it. I looked at them, ran towards them and hugged them. I was overjoyed and so were they. A girl had proven how effective she could be and people who laughed at her were the ones congratulating her with a guilty smile. I finally got to win and all the other teams acknowledged me and my team, which was the best feeling ever. I noticed how proud my parents were. The Team Coach was overjoyed.

The year came to an end and I got a decent grade, I could see how happy that professor was with my grade, that my anger was washed away and I realized that what she did was her way of motivating me to do well.

Hence participation is great guys but winning is always better, giving up is not an option. Winning is not always easy but easy is boring. Hard work will always pay off, maybe a little late, maybe when you least expect it but mark my words, don’t stop trying.

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