Conquering My Inner Demons

February 24, 2012
The smell of pungent gasses permeated through the room, while students clad in lab coats and safety goggles made their way through the crowded make-shift lab. Beakers clinked and clanked, and students poured colorful liquids into test tubes. A nervous silence suffused through the room. Even though I seemed calm and tranquil, the tension I always obtained before a major event gradually mounted up.

We were in the middle of a Science Olympiad test.

To most people, the prospect of participating in Science Olympiad feels like taking another boring test. But not to me. Science defines me. It excites me. It plays large role in my life. Just as a football player dreams of making it to the Super Bowl, I dream of winning at National Science Olympiad.

As I looked down at the empty page in front of me, apprehension struck. My hands became clammy, and a scowl broke out onto my face. And just as my resolve began to break, I remembered the day which taught me an important lesson. I remembered the day of the State Science Olympiad competition last year.

As my parents and I sat in the gym waiting for the results of  the State Science Olympiad my mother reassured me, "Don't worry Sean... You tried your best, didn't you?" The question was not really meant to be answered. "The only thing that matters is that you tried your best."

"Yeah, you're right" I replied glumly. Only a few hours earlier I finished the last test of the day. Although I gave it my best effort, a nagging feeling followed me, insisting I omitted something vital. At the moment my family and I waited in the gym for the awards ceremony, which would announce who placed. Sitting squeezed in my seat besides my parents, I contemplated the chances that I scored high on my events. No matter what I thought of, nothing could banish the suspicion that I had not done well. But there was no escaping the gym. I attempted to reassure myself with the fact it didn't matter whether I placed or not, but just that I had given it my all. But to no avail. No matter what I told myself, nothing besides the fear of scoring low in the test entered my mind. I wanted nothing more than to forget the competition and leave the gym. But I had to wait patiently just like everyone else, while all the awards were handed out. The minutes seemed to crawl by forever, each moment lasting a lifetime.

It was torture.

This awards ceremony meant much more to me than was externally visible. My future dreams all depended on this one event. Placing well now would prove that my dreams could come to fruition. But failing here would end all my hopes and dreams.

One by one the announcer called each event, until finally, he reached mine. Suddenly a tumult of thoughts and emotions poured out of my head. I became nervous, yet excited at the same time. My heart drummed against my chest, as a shiver went down my spine. I suddenly remembered events from previous years which all contributed to my presence here. I remembered how each year had brought a unique improvement. I remembered that in 6th grade I  did not place at all, and how 7th grade brought a few medals. As the announcer began to call out the teams that had scored in the top 6, my anticipation morphed into anxiety. With every team announced, an eruption of applause broke out. But I was oblivious to it all. The thought, "What if I didn't place? What if I didn't place?" kept circulating my head. As 6th through 3rd place were announced, my anxiety reached its climax. The words announced in the next seconds would dictate my whole dream. And as the 2nd place team was recognized, my final hopes of winning were crushed. Extremely disappointed, I looked down thinking about my failure. But just as I forgot about the competition the 1st place team was announced. For a moment I was numb. Before I knew it, I found everyone around me screaming my name. My friends and team mates all cried out phrases such as, "Sean you won!", "We knew that you could do it!", or "Great job, Sean!".

It seemed unusually quiet to me, and I did not fully comprehend what just occurred until I found myself standing in front of the whole gym accepting the first place medal. Then it dawned on me. Contrary to what I expected, I had placed. And not just did I place, I placed 1st in the whole State. The many hours spent practicing now paid off. The many weeks spent preparing for competition fulfilled. Whereas the time I spent worrying was dissipated.

Suddenly the event proctor's voice brought me back to reality. Sitting back my tension seemed to melt away, as a small smile crept onto my face. The anxiety that always preceded major events in my life faded away. My new realization consoled me. I would give the test my best effort, and not worry about the outcome. I had found a way to conquer my inner demons.

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bandgeek2011 said...
Mar. 1, 2012 at 7:41 am
I totally know the feeling, I do SO too. That was the perfect exlaination of what it feels like throughout awards:)
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