Fighting the fight

Have you ever wondered what it takes for a person to succeed, to get through hardships in life, to keep going and keep being motivated, no matter the circumstances?
In my opinion, people are fascinating creatures, they push themselves to the limits and they make it through their days.
I remember my years in high school, when I was fighting to always be #1, to be active, to participate in all sorts of contests and organize seasonal parties, which were very typical to the era back then (e.g. “Autumn Harvest”, “Winter holidays”, “Spring awakening”, “Summer vacation”, “Poetry week”, etc.). I even had the honor to be the host of a regional concert, were my partner and I would compose and adapt all the texts, then would plan the entire program of the concert with the support of our local artists, and it felt amazing. The concert turned out a very big deal, it lasted 2.5 hours, and we were praised and awarded for the tremendous job we’ve accomplished (if I remember well, I even had a financial reward afterwards).
Yet, there was this one single thing I couldn’t get done as I wished – getting the 1st place at the regional contest of French!
I had this wonderful teacher of French, who was extremely talented and the best human being you could ever hope to meet in your life. She was a natural as a teacher, she saw the potential of each student in class and, unlike other teachers, she supported the students who didn’t do that well in her class. She was so empathetic and patient with each of the students, that you would almost never hear her raise her voice or loose it to the moment. She knew when boys would cheat at tests, yet, she would dedicate time to let them answer orally the material in their own words, with faults and all. Natalia Goncear – that is her name.
One year, she asked me if I would like to participate at the regional contest of French. I was terrified, as it was quite big, but I said “Yes”. It was the best decision of my life then. Years in a row I would work my ass off for several months to compete in this contest that took place in an unknown location with kids from tens and tens of schools. Every day, even during all of my holidays (including cold winter days), during all the weekends, I would go to my teacher’s place and we would spend 1-1.5 hours for me to prepare for the contest. In class, she would give me extra homework, which was usually double compared to my classmates, she would ask me to answer at almost all of our classes, I would write tons of compositions and would always have extra notebooks just in case, I would go through lots of grammar exercises only to get ready for that one-day-contest! Damn, I was among the very few best students of French in my entire school, and we were over 400 students there! Let me tell you, that was no joke and no piece of cake during my high school years. Yet, I was the happiest kid ever, because I had my teacher to support me all the time, to watch my back and believe in my talent.
So, the big day always came, every year, no doubt about it. I would wake up in the morning nervous as hell, I would eat very little, I would take my water and sandwich with me and head out the door. At the contest, we would be seated one by one at different desks with a safe distance between us, so that nobody cheats and talks during the contest. We would have up to 3 hours (or less? don’t remember that well after over 10 years) to finish all the work, then we would have to wait outside the class for some communication on behalf of the contest committee. Results always came back in about a month. Every time my teacher told me she had the results and that they would be announced at the awarding ceremony dedicated to the students participating at contests at different subjects, I would cringe of excitement and fright at the same time. At the awarding ceremony, after the usual welcome speech and stuff, the director of our high school would have his assistant hand him the diplomas and he would call out the student by name and would announce the awarded place and the prize. I, standing paralyzed, would hear: “Ina Muntean, regional contest of French, 2nd PLACE and a prize of x lei (the currency of my country of origin, and yes, I would get money absolutely every year)”. WHAT??? Second place? I’m NUMBER 2? Is this happening for real? I was so stupefied! I mean, even my teacher believed that I would get the 1stplace! That same day I found out that a girl Alina I knew very well from another school won the 1st place. And so she did every year from then on. After my second or third year of participation in the contest my teacher found out that Alina had a different point of view than I did in compositions and the committee liked her best, but that in grammar we were very tight. Well, after my 5th year or so of 2nd place, I accepted and admitted Alina’s winning, even though it was hard. You know, that was exactly the kind of situation where a person would appreciate being taught to loose, not only win, and that it’s ok not to be the first in everything.
This specific story in my life taught me to accept the fact that people are different and each has his own talent and hidden ambition. It also taught me that each person is fighting hard to achieve something in life and that we all need to appreciate it. In the end, it’s important to know that you did your best, you struggled as much as you could, you didn’t give up when it was hardest and that you are the best version of yourself in life at that specific point.
If you understand and see that there’s room for improvement and you decide to follow this path, then do it, just go on and DO IT! You’ll most probably have awesome days and crappy days, you’ll go through different stages of emotional growth, you’ll likely have thoughts of “why am I even doing this”, but at the end of the day, when things would calm down, you’ll visualize your goal and you’ll know deep in your heart that it’s all worth it, with shits and all. So today, if you feel defeated, if you feel as if you can’t break through that glass ceiling you keep bumping your head against, pat yourself gently and give yourself some credit for the wonderful fight you are fighting. Most and foremost – never stop believing in yourself, because you are the one who knows your worth! Keep being amazing!   


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