When the flame is about to die
The question of passion for the past few days has made me feel like I’m walking on a barbed wire.
I was hurt with the idea that even though there are many opportunities out there, I couldn’t get far from the point of trying. I tried opening doors, and all the replies I got were shutting of those. I felt immensely deprived of what I deserve so I began to tell those people I am very close with that I am about to give up.
I told them that I lost every magic in writing that I used to have. Like a painter who used to use vibrant colors on canvas then eventually opted for darker shades, my writing abilities went downhill. I know some people wouldn’t agree simply because what they remember about my writings were those I have written years ago. Those masterpieces really won, and were recognized in various national contests for the past eight years that I have been writing. I don’t know what to blame, but something with age puts the flame out of a passion. There are days I would figure out why my writings wouldn’t move me as I proofread them — maybe the previous achievements have made me thirst for perfection, to the point that the natural state of my works lose the essence of simple, concise, yet moving messages. Maybe, when I join contests I join for the sake of money. I’ll be honest, I look at the pot money before I draft. It was not like before when I first came across the passion to write.
I was ten years old when I started training for competitions. A clueless girl, I was asked to write something about a painting we were shown and do it creatively. Before I know it, I’m already waiting for the result of the first contest I’ve joined. I have already won, came home with a medal and with an immensely proud mother. Learned more technicalities and formatting strategies, then in the blink of an eye I’m already waiting for my flight to Davao. I was already a twelve year-old, about to graduate elementary, about to step down from the position of an editor-in-chief. And most of all, I was about to represent the entire third region of the Philippines against other regions from all over the country. I wrote with all of my heart in the final stage of the competition in year 2010. I was not expecting anymore at all, given that there is an overwhelming amount of possibilities and impossibilities colliding in front of me.
But I won. I won against fifty other contestants from all over the country and went home with the gold. I told myself I’d be happy to go home safe with my Durian candies, but fate was so kind it made sure I brought a dreamy title back home.
In between every period of a summary of my success, there were much more things that happened. That is what I’m trying to remind myself now. If my twelve year-old self would meet me now, a seventeen year-old struggling to write like before, I’d probably be beaten up by my innocence. My twelve year-old version would tell me, “no, you didn’t win those in a blink of an eye!”. True enough. Maybe I have forgotten that in between the time I started and the time I reached the peak of my passion, I lost as well.
At first try for the nationals, I fell short. I went home without any award, but that didn’t stop me. I never took a break even after I lost to qualify for the nationals, spent my entire summer being trained under my first and original coach and used some that I’ve learned under the most experienced and influential writing mentors from my region. I accepted all requests for revisions since my writings did not meet the taste of my coaches, more than one articles sometimes and all at once. I would see how another coach of mine would put down my paper and put notes regarding how much creativity and bridging I lacked. My works would be compared to the works of other people, and those days would make me feel so incompetent.
To myself: you were the worst before they told you that you were the best. Your fingers didn’t mind the pain of spending weeks without ever resting even during weekends for the sake of writing about various topics. It took you two years of perseverance in order to bring home two championship trophies, a bronze medal and a silver medal. It was a process of many things — self doubting, learning, trying and accepting. I want you to remember that if failures became a launchpad for you before having everything you can be proud of right now, should it be now for you to think that it’s impossible for failures to be that way once more?
Embrace the art of losing — winners were never born to be winners at every moment in their life. They were losers once, twice or even many times but were persistent enough with clear goals. You cannot tell me the road is getting dark now in this road you promised to take for a lifetime. Because I will tell you, this road is not obscure but your eyes are just closed. Closed to see and learn from your mistakes, to the point you cannot reassess them and try once more.