Competing For A Grade | Teen Ink

Competing For A Grade

December 6, 2022
By hkelekolio BRONZE, Tempe, Arizona
hkelekolio BRONZE, Tempe, Arizona
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

“Harley Kelekolio on deck” beckons for me on the speakers on the other side of the curtain. My heart thumps from nerves and I can practically feel the blood flowing through my veins. I curl my toes into the shallow carpet fur and drag them down like a bull ready to charge. I do one last turn to acclimate myself to the performance floor. The sound of applause rumbles through the room signaling the end of my opponent's performance. My coach signals for me and I wheeze struggling to pull air into my lungs from anxiety. “Pull your shoulders back, and chin up” my coach whispers as she grabs me by my shoulders, thumbs on the base of my shoulder blades, yanking them back into position. “Harley Kelekolio of North Shore Rhythmics”, my name blasts from the speakers announcing my entrance to the floor. I take a deep breath, finally able to calm myself down and strut onto the competition floor on relevé as if I were wearing an invisible pair of stilettos. I give a hearty performance smile to the judges and take my starting position in the middle of the floor with my apparatus in hand.
“Boom” echoes through the competition room. The next thing I know I’m on my hands and knees with my clubs nowhere to be found. I’m dazed and confused, as the world is coming back into focus I can hear the music for my routine continue to play snapping me back into focus. I had two options: give up out of embarrassment or push forward in an attempt to somewhat redeem myself and the performance I’ve worked hard for. I never wanted to give up more in life, but I figured it would be even more embarrassing to give up at my first sign of struggle. So, I gather myself as I attempt to process what just happened and what choreography to continue dancing from. The competition carpet was different from the one I had practiced on almost everyday that year. It was slippery. I had completely failed my turning trick and fell on my face. For hours on end I perfected my performance, only for my downfall to be a carpet.
“Clap, clap, clap” I hear the sound of applause almost as if in slow motion. The whole thing was a blur, and I was just trying to keep my composure and continue smiling to the judges during my walk off. I decided I couldn’t let my other routines be as bad as that one and had to be a better representative of my gym.
“And tied for first place Harley Kelekolio from North Shore Rhythmics!”
I took first in everything: ball, hoop, floor, ribbon, except for clubs. I was ecstatic in my rankings, but at the same time so distraught that one routine made me share the podium as first place for the all-around medal.
My competition experience in Rhythmic Gymnastics was much like my experience so far in college. The excitement of going to a new, unfamiliar place for competition compares to almost every college student diving into a new living place. I understand at first glance that a sport and college are two very different things from the naked eye. Yet, I would argue you are educating yourself and in the end proving you are able to execute what you learned in both.
The struggles that college students experience relate to a lot of competition struggles. Both athletes and college students put time and effort into their dedications. Learning new skills, turns, and routines is like learning and doing activities in class. Practicing for a competition is much like studying. A performance is like the midterms and finals of college. Messing up on one trick or turn is like getting a bad grade on an assignment, yet messing up many feels like failing an exam.. The disappointment I felt when failing a trick during a performance is similar to how I feel when I mess up a math problem on an exam when I know how to do the topic, but made a calculation mistake. You can practice a trick or turn hundreds of times and solve many math problems, but what actually matters is the test or competition. Messing up that turn was like flunking an assignment that brought my grade down from an A to a B. A trick or turn can be executed many times before, but that doesn’t matter to the judges, much like how it doesn’t matter to your GPA when you ace the review, but bomb the test. One slip up can cost you points, both in school and in score.
The performance floor being different from the one you practiced on for months can really affect your performance. Comparatively, preparing for a math test with the review provided by the professor, then the test containing unexpected topics can greatly affect your grade when unprepared for the situation.
Cramming to study the night before a test or completing work an hour before the due date isn’t an effective way for most people to be successful and thrive academically. Similarly, intensely stretching before a performance isn’t as effective to performance quality for dancers and gymnasts as putting in time to stretch everyday in order to increase flexibility.
In addition, you cannot choke or let nerves get to you in both situations. If you panic during a test, you often freak out and don’t allow yourself to think and immediately have self-doubt instead of trying. Often while performing, you can put too much pressure on yourself to do perfect, the audience becomes too much, or the pressure of the scoring gets in the way of one’s focus.
College and the environment it brings can make you really happy, but also take a toll on your mental health. One’s academic and social goals can create immense pressure on themselves. Comparatively, one's athletic goals and failures can put pressure on an athlete's physical and mental wellbeing. Both are experiences that are what you make of it.

The author's comments:

I wrote this essay for my college English class and it is a narrative with an extended analogy.

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