We want to be the best. We want to be the number one. We think, being number one means being the best and the greatest. Like you, this was the kind of thinking I had until I was deprived with such. Until being the best was no more.
I was in my senior high school and my hopes were at the highest peak. I was about to reach the finish line. As I close my eyes, I could see myself walking at that stage with a ribbon pinned on my chest labelled valedictorian. I will give my valedictory address to my fellow graduates. I will receive different awards for being the best student of the class 2006.
Yet, even before that final year came, I’ve been striving hard studying, making me the class first honour from freshman until my junior year. My conviction was very strong. I’ll still make it this year. I will be the best among the 198 graduates.
To fulfil my final mission, I spent the year participating in school activities. I competed in different contests and represented the school in several gatherings. I was always on time with my projects. I was both competitive and insecure. Perhaps, ambitious.
One afternoon, which I will never forget, turned all my hopes and dreams into ash. The top 10 students of our class were called at the principal’s office for the announcement of the rankings. It was announced then but, I wasn’t there. I was busy planting trees at the back of the school, for the completion of my clearance.
When I came back to the classroom, my classmates were busy cheering and congratulating each other. I was curious and nervous at the same time when one approached to congratulate me. “Pril, congratulations, you’re the S-A-L-U-T-A-T-O-R-I-A-N”.”
I was stiff deaf for a moment. My brain was loading the information slowly. I could feel my heart subsided and started to melt. It was a mix of emotion, confused why they are congratulating me and much of self-pity. “This is not what I expected! This is not what I want.”
Unable to contain my disappointment, I went home and with my pillow, I poured all my frustrations. I didn’t even eat my dinner that night. The following day I woke up worried how to face the day, feeling shameful for being just the second best.
But, I had no choice but to go on with my life. I went to our graduation half satisfied and not to mention I even cried when delivering my salutatory speech. I felt cheated. I was so broken hearted. I’m not the best. I’m not the number one. I’m only number two. I’m just the second best.
Moreover, I continued reaching my dreams. I went to college and get my degree. I didn’t let this failure stop me from becoming who I want to be.
Nevertheless, being the second best taught me these several lessons is life.
1) Acknowledge excellence of other, that’s humbling. We all have our limitations. Sometimes, no matter what you do, someone is still going to be better than you are. But it doesn’t mean you are lesser of a person you are. It’s just not the right time and place for you.
2) If you want to achieve your goal, be consistent and persistent. Do not be too confident on what you have already accomplished. Reaching a certain goal is a continuous process in which you have to keep going at the same pacing. Time there will be changes in the process, but you must be able to cope and adjust to it. My mistake was perhaps, I became complacent with my performance.
3) In everything you do, always give your best. When time passes, you can’t bring it back. When you mess up with your life, you can no longer redo it. So always give the best shot the first time you do it. Otherwise, you will end up regretting what you have done.
4) Big or small always appreciate the fruit of your labour, that’s contentment. I was so frustrated because I was not contented with my achievement. However, these are blessings and favour from above. Not everyone is given the same favour so learn to appreciate it. Be thankful, for others are probably wishing for it too.
5) You don’t have to be the best to be a good example. When I was already in college, I would visit my alma matter during summer break. It is just so heart-warming whenever our guidance counsellor would introduce me to some high school students. She would tell them to follow my footsteps, who never get into trouble and entertain any romantic relationships. Rather I focused only on my studies. People would always remember the good things you have done.
6) You will only experience true happiness when you learn to be happy for others. After all, I realized it was four years of a great time for all of us. It wasn’t just about the battle but, the friendship as well. Though some experienced misfortunes or financial problems, I am still happy that we all made it, and together we can move forward to college.
7) You can’t just allow failure to stop you from moving forward and growing. I probably sound over reacting for calling it a failure but, yes it is because I didn’t reach my goal that is to be the number one. However, I realized life doesn’t end there. There are too many things I can still do if I only free myself from bitterness and allow myself to move forward and grow.
8) Genuine friendship is one which cannot be shaken by the trials. The one who became our valedictorian happened also to be a very good friend (literally!) of mine. At first, after the announcement I was hesitant to talk to him. I was bitter actually and he knew it. But I was touched by how he showed me compassion. He approached and congratulated me. After the graduation ceremony, he even fetched me from our house to go to theirs to join the small celebration. And, even until now, he’s among my close friends.