Failing successfully

by noriel ancheta agcaoili
(Isabela, Philippine)

Noriel Agcaoili

My day in the sun had arrived- my magnum opus would be revealed the moment when I compete. I had just delivered a memorized speech that I had labored over for weeks, and I was about to learn how the panel judged my performance. The polite but spares audience leaned forward in their folding chairs. A hush fell across the room. The drum rolled (in my mind anyway).
The contest organizer announced the third-place winner. Alas, the name was not mine. Then he read the second-place winner, and once again it was not me. At last the moment of truth came. Either I was about to bask in the warmth of victory or rue the last several months spent preparing. While neither of these came to pass, my heartfelt closer to the latter.
Losing is a part of life, and I have dealt the emotional baggage that travels shotgun with it on more than one occasion. However, it was an indescribably underwhelming feeling to drive how many miles round trip, get up obscenely early to a freezing Saturday morning, and yet finish fourth out of four contestants. After losing in the competition, I’ve cried. At the height of my emotion I notice a drop of tears falling voluntarily and I can’t resist.
One morning I heard over the radio a senator who loose in running in the recent election, he said “I felt like the 12-year old boy who stubbed his toe. I was too big to cry and it hurt too bad to laugh.” Oh yeah, I could relate.”
I had spent many hours in front of computer and libraries doing research for a good speech to make. As I pored over several biographies, one notion stood out; a man who had handed many defeats, but he never allowed them permanently hinder his spirit or ambition. While I believe many history lessons can be applied to modern life. I hadn’t considered the “agony of defeat” as historically valuable learning experience. I never dreamed. I could relate. I thought “failing successfully” was a very appreciate topic, given the many letdown experiences. And so this becomes the title of my speech.
After not placing in the first year speech contest, I really wanted to compete again. I think I had been the epitome of persistence, so I was not going to give up on a contest about a historic individual who did not give up. I reworked my dialogue for the following competition, and while I did not come in the last, again I did not place. Some days you’re the dog, some days you’re the hydrant and this was definitely a hydrant day that brought me down for a while.
I couldn’t accept the fact that I had failed twice in something that I had worked so hard, until I contemplated the individual whom I’d spent so much time learning about. Never mind the lost prize (ouch, major) - I had learned, really learned about a great man who had experienced failure and disappointments, and had many chances to give up. I remember I must not take this route; I must not throw lavish pity and he persevered to become, according to many.
While I did not earn monetary awards as a result of this contest, I did gain new perspective. Through learning, I discovered I can fail successfully and that is the possible to glean applicable wisdom from the lives of those who have come before us. Now, when I’m faced with a setback I just remember my mother had thought me “ the path was worn and slippery” my foot slipped from under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and said to myself “It's a slip and not a fall.”

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