No matter what the situation may be, you will definitely have doubters. People will talk shit just to psych you out; some people just want to see you fall, it’s inevitable. But as long as you know that deep down this is what you want and set your mind to do it, then nothing can stop you from achieving your goals in life.
I still could remember when I was in secondary school swimming School Nationals, being a late bloomer, my competitors were 2-3 heads taller than me. Being the smallest and shortest one out of the 8 finalist, I was definitely intimated by their presence, but that didn’t stop me from giving all I have in that race.
At the reporting area before the race I had a conversation with my competitor which was sitting beside me, he was of a different school, but it was all about friendly competition anyway, right?
“Hey Sheng Jun, what are your plans for this race?” He asked me.
“I’ll just have fun and try my best! It will be hard but hopefully I’ll be able to win it.” I replied.
His reply afterwards left a big impact in my heart.
“Well, Sheng Jun, let me explain an analogy to you. Do you know how the food chain works?” He asked.
“Not sure… Why?” I asked.
“Ok let me explain it to you, so in this race, you’re like a fish, fishes are pretty good right? But unfortunately, I’m an eagle. In the food chain, there’s no way a fish can eat an eagle, an eagle always eats the fish, that’s just how it works in the food chain, same goes for this race which is coming up.” He said.
After hearing about his “analogy” about the race, it really tipped me off so much that I just didn’t want to lose. That really fired me up to win him. How could someone say this to me before a race? I kid you not, I was so mad. So the race begin and I swam my heart out just to beat him.
When the race ended, I immediately turned my head to the score board as it looked like a close race between us. My heart literally sank when I saw that I’ve lost to him by 0.07 seconds. I’ve been out touched by a little, and to be honest I was really really angry.
What made me even more furious was that after the race, he even said “See, Sheng Jun, I told you so.”
I’m not making things up, THAT REALLY HAPPENED.
But the main message that I’m trying to bring across here is not about how angry I was, but it was what happened after. Even though I lost that race, that did not stop me from working hard. In fact, it fired me up to work even harder. From that day on wards, I was more motivated to train harder. I constantly reminded myself of the “food chain analogy” and every time I was tired from a training session, that fired me up to not give in to soreness and fatigue.
We can always learn the good points from what seems to be a bad experience. I kinda thank him for talking shit about me during that race, because I hate people that doubt my ability, and that really motivated me work a lot harder just to prove him wrong.
So over the years I’ve worked hard and we finally competed again in the Singapore National Age Group (SNAG) Championships. I was much fitter and faster at this point of time from all the hard work and most importantly, I was on par on height and strength of my competitors as I already hit puberty at that point of time. I was finally around the same height as my competitors, how awesome is that? They don’t look as intimidating as they were before.
I saw him sitting down at the reporting area as well. I wanted to start a conversation with him, but we were quite far apart due to lane assignments so we didn’t get an opportunity to communicate.
I was really excited to compete in this race as I knew that I was much more well prepared this time around. I’ve been working really hard for this, and all I needed to do in this race was to let my body take over as I’ve already put all the hard work that I needed to.
The race ended and when I turned over to look at the scoreboard, I was well ahead of him. Words can’t describe the amount of satisfaction I had after that race, it just felt so good being able to win someone that once doubted my capabilities, I just could not stop smiling after the race.
After the race he ran up to me, “Hey Sheng Jun! Woah you’ve become so buff now! Still remember when you were like a kid, look at how much you’ve grown. Well done on your race! It’s really a good swim, you’re really fast now, congrats man. Next step, do Singapore proud!”
I looked at him, “Yeah, remember about that food chain analogy you told me about a few years back? I want to thank you for that, because that was what really fired me to train harder everyday.”
That was what I initially wanted to say.
But grudges aside, I was really happy about that race at that point of time. And factoring in that he displayed sportsmanship and congratulated me, I smiled and said, “Thank you.” And we started catching up with each other.
From this life experience I have learnt that in life, hard work will always beat talent no matter what. You have to learn to ignore all your doubters and prove them wrong if you need to. Take their insults as a means to motivate you to work harder towards your goal. Don’t ever give up just because people say you can’t make it.
I understand that my experience was a positive one, but what if I was still not able to win him after all those years of hard work? All I can say is that even if I had lost after those few years of hard work, I will still have no regrets because deep down, I knew that I have given everything to the best of my ability so even if I lost, at least I know I tried. The biggest risk in life, ironically, is not taking one.
Always remember that in life, people will try to pull you down no matter what, you just have to learn to ignore them because even though their words may hurt, they don’t matter to you. If I had quit when I lost that race a few years back, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So just do what you love doing and never give up! 🙂
Hope my experience will motivate you guys to work hard and ignore those that doubt your capabilities! 🙂
“When you truly don’t care what anyone thinks of you… You’ve gotten dangerously close to something called Freedom.”
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Hard Work Pays Off