I’ve always hated losing. Ever since I was a little girl, I would sulk when I lost at tag or cry if my soccer team lost. Over the years, age and a more nuanced understanding of defeat have molded me into a better competitor and
a better loser. Through all the speech, writing, and dance contests of high school, I have never once pitched a fit. But, a few weeks ago, I lost a speech contest that meant a lot to me. It was one I had been doing for many years, and one where I had formed close relationships with many members. I had planned on it being my last speech contest ever. Then, all that excitement came to a grinding halt.
While we took the photos and shook hands, I remembered to smile and congratulate the other contestants. Then, I got in the car and cried the entire way home. After months of excitement, imagining my four-year journey in this specific contest ending with a final victory, I was crushed. In a way I had not been for any of the preceding contests, I was so emotionally invested that it was difficult to disentangle myself.
For my last contest, it felt like all the hours of work had petered out. The loss hurt, but what hurt more was feeling like I’d disappointed all the club members who had helped me along from the start.
But, after an hour of wallowing in my self-imposed misery, I bucked up. At the end of the day, life is filled with disappointments and defeats. There’s always going to be a loss; there’s always going to be a time you don’t get what you want. (You can’t always get what you want!) Even though I really wanted to win, and it’s okay to feel disappointment, life is not defined by our losses. Even when those losses inevitably come, they’re marked by how well you get back up.
By Julia Abbott