Hard to See the Good in myself
A gold medal does not always represent victory, at least not for oneself. The shiny gold coin is a token only given to the best of the best. It’s crafted to show the place that the one individual earned. A bright blue lanyard holds the metal around the victor’s neck. It is worn with triumph, and sometimes ignorance. I cannot see my accomplishments because I only see the medal. I couldn’t grasp the fact that gold medals are earned, not given.
2018 Districts Championships of the Mid America Region for ATA (American Taekwondo Association). I woke up early like any other tournament. I spent an hour making sure I looked presentable, I made sure my belt and uniform were nice and crisp. My father and I tested out the speaker and made sure the music worked. The hotel where the tournament was hosted was already packed, and I even saw my friends from the ring. The other girls had done the same as I; tie up their hair, and do their makeup.. All sweat-proof. I was ready, I was pumped, And I really really wanted to chicken out last minute.
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This was the third year in a row I was going to Districts, and third year in a row where I did not bring home a gold. I learned that getting 2nd and 3rd place is not the best, but I was used to it. My confidence has always been in the negatives, still is. I let my negative thoughts control my actions so I am forced to fail. Everything could fall apart because of the word, ”Can’t”. You can never get a gold medal when you say “Can’t”.
I knew I wasn’t going to bring home a gold medal. I had only made the new form a month before. Most girls put techniques from the martial art together and sync it up to a song months in advance… Not me. I was already shaking, knowing that these girls were better than me. I saw myself as the fat white girl who couldn’t tell a front kick from a side kick, (I’m kidding, don’t be so serious). I could never do a flip, but these girls could do ten in a row. They were all more fit than me, and I let that bring me down.
Most of the event was a blur. The judges remain nameless along with everyone else in the sea of people that filled the room. The conversations echoes throughout the room like a dim cave. I easily remember the usual bow-in at 8:30. I was standing outside. Numbness took over as I felt my eyes water with salty tears. I was so scared, afraid I would fail again. I would let down my school. I would yet again wait another year to fight for the title I’ll never earn. Negativity consumed me. I have been to over twenty tournaments; I was holding three state titles; And I had received over 50 trophies and medals from just the sport alone. Why was I falling apart then and there? My instructor found me and comforted me, but that only made me worst. The one of few people who help me find confidence in myself found me crying in a hallway. “Pathetic”, I kept telling myself. I didn’t come out until a nice woman offered me an essential oil to calm me. Luckily, it worked.
I was fine until after I performed. I had forgotten a few Techniques. I knew the judges saw the fear in my eyes because of the pitiful look each one gave me. I stood next to my opponents as I waited for my score… “7.9 … 7.9 … and 7.9”. My eyes widened. I had gotten a Seven out of Nine all around. Even though that meant I got Third, I still placed. I actually placed, third out of four girls. Of course, I was still bummed. I felt like I had received a D in a class. I passed… Barely.
After the first form went by, I had to perform my second form. It was the same as my previous form, but with a different ending. I waited for my name to be called. I bowed in and raised my hand to start the music. I waited.. And waited.. And waited. I knew the speaker wasn’t super loud, but no music was heard. The judge stopped time and had me go fix the problem. It turned out that my phone lost connection to the speaker. I brushed it off and went back into the ring. I was mortified, competing in silence. I had no music, no noise. The only thing that the judges could hear was my shaky, nervous breath. When I was done, I slowly rose and took my score.
I again placed in 3rd, 7.9 all around. After my ring ended, I was crushed. For the 3rd time in a row, I lost. I couldn’t bare to even look at my mother. I knew she’d make a comment. “You never Practice. You just want your friends to win. We wasted our money again.” I’ve heard them countless of times, and it was relief that she didn’t say anything that day.
Thinking so little of myself was the reason the whole morning failed. I was never able to see the good in me. I beat myself up over every mistake I made that day, and every day before and after that. It’s hard to see the good in myself after failing over and over again. They say a leader is strong, but how can you be strong when you can barely pick yourself up?