Friday, June 14, 2024

Beyond winning: Experience is the ultimate reward

By Kean Andrei Bagaipo | April 26, 2024

One can find it interesting to hear anecdotes of one’s achievements in life. Someone can tell me that the exact meaning of success for them is winning, but in the back of my mind, I’m thinking: could this be the right idea?

The thought that success equates to winning already bothered me at a young age, especially in competitive environments. Starting in third grade, I confidently unlocked parts of the world and unveiled my skills and talents whether in mathematics, oratorical speaking, or journalistic writing — I even juggle in between.

Armed with academic know-how, I pushed myself to excel beyond my current capacity and to prove to others that I can do and achieve something. With the support of my family, I joined and competed in local, regional, and national stints.

Win after win, I was overwhelmed by the fact that all the tireless days and sleepless nights of studying, training, and preparations paid off. For my younger self, to win was to exemplify the hard work and dedication I poured into my craft.

Triumph often signifies reaching a desired outcome, but this is not always the case. I can vividly remember back in 2019 when I joined the Regional Schools Press Conference for the fifth consecutive year. Despite my earnest desire to win and permeate to the nationals, I failed.

I was deeply devastated because I knew I had it in me and gave it my best. As I gazed upon the face of my coach whose eyes were silently telling me “it’s okay,” I could not help but burst into tears. But then I realized, I only have myself to pick me up from this downfall.

It wasn’t until one of my mentors took me for a walk and told me the most important lesson I have ever learned in my life. He said, “Believe me, in life, winning is just secondary. The top-most prize is you gaining experience.”

These words were an eye-opener. It changed my perception, and told me that there is something more valuable to learn and treasure in life rather than achieving or winning.

As French philosopher Michel Montaigne wrote in his essay, “I am scribbling here a record of my life’s experiences, which is sufficient for purposes of inward health.” This taught me that knowledge and wisdom rooted in our personal experiences must be achieved with balance to find happiness and contentment.

In life, while we prefer the comfort of growth without pain and success without failure, the harsh and terrifying ordeals we sometimes experience are just as worth going through as a near-perfect experience.

So why do I need to feel bad about losing a game, when the ultimate reward is gaining experience and learning from it? Through these realizations, I drew lessons that I carry with me moving forward.

And until my next battle–whether I win or lose — I will always glean learning through experiences that will guide me in my pursuit toward genuine success.

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