When asked in an interview of how she felt when she lost the 1998 Olympics Gold medal, Michelle Kwan said, “I still won the Silver.”
You can still win, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. In 2007, my team and I competed in a college-wide dragonboat championship and our team didn’t even make it to the final top three. But I still won a first place medal that day with half the team that wasn’t our own.
Here’s my story: I was a freshmen in college and this was my first ever college dragonboat championship. There was a women’s division round and my team actually didn’t have enough women to participate. Our team, made up half men and half women, just had barely enough people to make a full boat. Interestingly, another college team also didn’t have enough women to participate either and were in the same boat as us too (pun intended). It was suggested that we pair up – half of the women from our team and half of the women from the other – to compete in the women’s round.
It was a crazy idea to be in the same boat with women we barely knew and most likely trained with different paddling styles. The odds were against us too, since we were going against teams with women who trained with each other for months and probably even years. But we decided to go for it anyway. Once the race started, I gave it a 120% and just kept paddling forward, no matter how wet or cold I got in the wintery day. I remember I instinctively didn’t want to let this group of women down, even though half of them were strangers. So in the midst of the loud cheering, screaming, and shouting during the whole race, I kept charging forward. And we won.
You can think that we were unlucky to compete with women we barely knew. Or you can think we were the luckiest group of women to be on the same team together and win first place that day. So, when you see the glass half full or half empty, it’s up to you. I believe you can have an ox-cellent year if you open your perspective and figure out how to keep going.
You still gained something in the end, like work experience, new colleagues, and maybe finally figured out how to use the office printer properly. Or you realized you had a terrible boss, a shitty job, and didn’t even like the work to begin with. Losing a job or a chunk of your salary doesn’t mean you lose everything. It may feel like it initially, but remember that you still have control over your life. You can figure it out and eventually things work out. Everything is figureoutable.
I hope you carry this mindset with you in 2021. Have the willpower to move forward, do bigger and be better. You can still win and the year is just beginning, so get MOO-ving!