The Key to Success | TeenInk

The Key to Success

January 4, 2018
By greenlolli BRONZE, Sugar Land, Texas
greenlolli BRONZE, Sugar Land, Texas
2 articles 14 photos 0 comments

“Hard work can beat talent if talent doesn’t work hard,” repeated my mom a few years back when I audaciously stated that I wanted to win first place at the upcoming statewide piano competition. I knew then that this lofty goal of mine was nearly impossible, if not impossible, to achieve, yet this made me even more determined to reach it. But being the naïve child that I was, I thought determination meant flaunting around the house, boasting to everyone that I will win without practicing the piano piece even once. So it was not until my relatives came over and asked me to play the piece for them did I realize that determination was a whole new meaning entirely.
Every year, the best piano players would come from all over the state to compete in this competition. It’s a huge deal, especially for a novice like me. My mom was my number one supporter. Every day after school, she would sit down right next to me in her favorite purple loveseat, taking in all the details with her sharp, tiger-like eyes while I practiced my piece. When I couldn’t and wouldn’t play any longer, she would always recite her “infamous” saying to me,” If you want to win, then act like it. Don’t give up.” I never wanted to admit to my mom that after every practice, my whole body would be aching and throbbing from all the intense and demanding treatments of my already numb fingers and stiff back because I never wanted to sound like a quitter. I didn’t want to disappoint my mom, so I would keep on practicing until I finally fell asleep on the piano keys. Apparently, this was my mom’s idea of the perfect practice. “No determination, no success.” That was her motto.
Days, weeks, then months passed. Finally, the day that I was waiting for arrived. That day, right before it was my turn to perform my mastered piece in front of all the critical judges, my mom reiterated her adage into my ears,” I know you want to succeed, so listen to me. Don’t stop playing even if you mess up. Be there for the experience not for the win, okay?” Quickly, I managed to nod before I was ushered into the commodious auditorium for the cherished moment. My heart was thumping out of my chest, and I was afraid that the judges would hear the beating of my heart instead of the music. However, I thought of my mom, and I decided that I didn’t come all this way just to give in to fear. Cautiously, I took a seat on the hard and unyielding bench. My hands were clammy with great puddles of sweat as I gradually began the intro. Slowly but surely, I began to forget the world around me. I forgot that I was playing in a major competition and that many judges were staring at my every move. I just let myself sink deeper and deeper into the music. Unfortunately, halfway through the piece, I felt an irrepressible sneeze, ticking like a bomb getting ready to explode. I hesistated, and in that moment, my sweaty hands slipped off the key. My fingers trembled, grasping for the right note. Was it B ? ? Or was it D ??  I didn’t know what to do. Was I supposed to keep playing through the song and act like nothing happened, or should I just apologize and leave? In my mind, I already thought it was over. Hours and hours of hard work was going to be poured down the drain in just the few seconds of my fleeting absentmindedness, but I couldn’t bear to quit, not after I remembered my mother’s ringing voice in my head urging me to keep on going. So I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and lightly tapped my index finger on what I hoped was the right note. After that, my fingers didn’t stop, not until the very end of the piece when I gently lifted my hands into the air and into my lap. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the three judges clapping for and congratulating me for my hard work and effort. When I came out of the room, it was like I was a whole different person. I was more confident in my abilities and determined to practice more for the next piano competition. As I sat in the lounge waiting for the results to come out, I only hoped that success was right around the corner, waiting patiently for the precise time to expose itself to me.
Hours later, when it was time to announce the winners onstage, I was the only person trembling with both anticipation and fright. What if I didn’t place in the finals? I pondered with extreme pensiveness. After what seemed like days, the main judge finally read out the names of all the finalists. I hoped that my determination would lead me to the success that I was hoping for. The Honorable Mention was called, and it wasn’t me. My heart fluttered with anxiety. Then the 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd place participants were all called, and my head drooped with every name. I heard my heart thumping as the crowd grew hushed and silent, awaiting the five words that would determine the fates of the remaining contestants. At last, the judge divulged the winner with an exaggerated tone in his voice, “And 1st place goes to…” At that exact second, I felt as if my whole life was complete and that no one could take this earth-shattering moment away from me. In that instant, it was just the stage and me. I broke away from my temporary trance when my name was repeated by the judge, louder this time. I could barely register my emotions as I raced up the steps to the stage. I proudly held my trophy with a fulfilled look on my face. This was my success, and it was worth it. Later that day, I realized that determination is not merely saying that you will win. Instead, it is only when you have hurdled through obstacles and kept going that you can truly call yourself determined. Without determination, no goal can be attained, and no action can yield results.
In the end, I believe that the saying my mom has always lived by is more than a simple adage. It is a life lesson. And now, I am living my life in the same fashion. A person’s path to their goals is always changing and facing increasingly more challenges and obstacles. To overcome all of life’s inevitable problems in the future, the key is determination.  As my mom always said,” It’s hard to beat the person who is the best, but it is harder to beat the person who never gives up even in the face of adversity.” Determination is the secret to success, and this I truly believe.

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