Do not let your past define you.
Everyone loves a loser story. Who doesn’t? I’m quite sure though that everyone has an embarrassing story about themselves hidden deep beneath their souls, waiting to be told to their nearest and dearest (only).
I train regularly for distance running, and I know my talents do not lie in sprinting. As I live my life every day, I sometimes have moments where I am transported back to the time when I was 12 years old, representing my Rumah Merah team as the third runner for the 4×200m relay event.
We had a strong team that year: The first runner and the anchor of the team were district-level sprinters. I did my part by attending a single training for the event that year. We practised handing the baton, and that was it. I felt strong and invincible.
The day of the event finally arrived. I went to school that day wearing my white school shoes. My entire family attended school that day to watch me perform. My mind was a total blank sheet of paper, absorbing whatever my friends told me that day. I had friends telling me to run barefoot for more grip on the grass, while others told me to retain the shoes. The hottest item of that year was minyak cap kuda (Horse brand massage oil): almost all athletes in all four houses (Red, Green, Blue and Yellow) diligently massaged the oil onto their shins and feet, so that they could run like “horses”. I followed suit.
My event started at about 4pm, under the hot sun. As the gun blasted and the first runners shot off from the lines, I could not help but feel a thrill of anticipation coursing through my veins. My team mate created a huge gap of almost 50m between the other teams as she flew across the field. I got into position as the batons were exchanged between the first and second runners. The second runner managed to maintain the gap. Once the baton reached my outstretched hand, I started running as hard as I can across the field. The first 50m felt good. Then I started feeling a strange sensation in my stomach: my lunch was sloshing around, and a stitch was developing on my right side. By the 100m mark, my legs were lead, and I started faltering. I remembered the minyak cap kuda smeared on my legs, and prayed for it to work statim. A roar suddenly enveloped the field, and out of nowhere, my classmate, wearing green of her team, whizzed past me and flew in front of me to hand the baton to her team mate. I plodded along the best I can, and finally passed the baton to my very-frustrated team mate, who could not catch up with the Green team despite her best efforts. We won a silver medal that day, through my “hard”-earned efforts.
I learnt that two categories of people were present on the field that day: those who were frustrated with me, and people who were greatly entertained by my ineptitude. My mother later told me that many parents and spectators roared in despair when my friend lapped me in the race. This story is now a legend in my family, as it is recounted time and time again when the occasion presents itself.
Just a few months ago, I was asked to represent my residential hall in the 4×400m event for the university’s annual sports event, due to the lack of participants. I was assigned as the first runner. As I prepared for the event, I could not help but remember my past, and wondered if the situation would repeat itself. This thought was put away permanently as I finished my lap that day, the first among all the teams to hand the baton to the next person.
Do not let your past define you.