How It Feels To Stand At The Bottom Of The Podium

How It Feels To Stand At The Bottom Of The Podium

Turning humiliation into determination

The buzzer sounded, the referee blew his whistle, and the match ended. In that instant, a tsunami of emotions began to wash over and the realization that the long season was over started to set in. After shaking hands with my opponent and his coaches, I slowly walked back to my coaches with my head hanging in disappointment. Everything I had worked so hard for felt like it had slipped out of my grip.

With shaking hands and trembling legs fraught with exhaustion, I made my way to the back corner of the arena, laid down on my back, and began to cry. The feeling was overwhelming and debilitating. As I laid there, I reflected on the immense feeling of failure that persisted within me. How could I have let this happen? Everything I had sacrificed and striven to accomplish that season, gone to waste in a matter of minutes. Yes, I had managed to earn a medal, but there was little consolation in knowing it was as good as the last place. I didn't feel deserving; instead, I felt lucky, and that made the defeat even worse.

Later that night during the medal ceremony, my name was called first and for a moment, I felt a twinge of pride. However, once everyone else was standing on the podium, I realized that I was the only one who had to stand on the floor. That small feeling of pride was instantly replaced with embarrassment and shame.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the other medal-winners smiling and reveling in their achievement. My dulling sadness was again replaced by something new: a newfound sense of determination. I remember looking up to the ceiling and swearing to myself that next season would be different. Next season, I would stand on that podium no matter what.

Every wrestler dreams of winning a state championship, but few ever see that dream realized. I was one of those dreamers; training and grinding every single day in hopes of seeing it come to fruition. In the end, although I did not achieve that dream, I did achieve something perhaps even more important.

My junior year, I placed sixth in the wrestling state championships and had to stand on the floor next to the podium. My following senior season, I held true to my promise and placed fifth. While a one place increase doesn't seem like much, it made all the difference in the world.

Sometimes, we cannot accomplish the large goal we so hoped to, but we can take what we come away with and turn it into something more meaningful. Everyone wants to succeed, and if a person finds a way to achieve a little more each day, than every measure of success can be found. Determination is simply the difference between standing on the floor and standing on the podium.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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8 Pieces Of Advice I Have For High School Seniors About To Enter College

You will either love me or hate me after reading this.

Dear high school seniors, there are some things you need to know.

1. Boys/girls

Yeah, you read that right. Don't follow your boyfriend/girlfriend to college. If you do, it could be because you really enjoy that school and the education system is phenomenal and is absolutely meant for the both of you. But, if you are someone like me who was an idiot and decided to "follow their heart," don't.

Your the love that is all good and pure, DON'T DO IT.

I'm not saying the relationship won't last, maybe you're great at long distance. I'm saying this to allow you to think about what is best for you and your education, don't ruin it and go to some college you have never heard of because a boy/girl told you to.

Granted, I personally ruined my education by skipping class, but that's another point we will get to later. The school wasn't bad at all, it just wasn't my first choice. I did have some great times there, but I was never entirely happy with myself or my choice. So, please consider yourself before another person on this. Your boyfriend/girlfriend isn't going to get your degree for you.

2. Parties

Some of you are thinking, yeah right I will never go to a party. Don't lie. I said that to and I went. I was completely against it, I hated the thought of getting drunk for entertainment and dancing and taking shots. I found it disgusting and repulsive, yet I still did it. Someone you probably never will, congrats to you.

For those of you who will or already do for that matter, don't let it ruin your education and don't go to college just to party, you will literally be in debt by thousands and want to punch yourself in the face later, I know because I have many friends that have experienced that on a personal level.

3. Sorority/fraternity

Since we are talking about parties, allow me to introduce to you Greek life. For those of you who are going to rush because you think it's cool and will make you popular, you're absolutely right it will. But, for what you think it is, it's much more. Greek life doesn't sit idly by and throw their drinks in the air and have parties 24/7.

Parties are a thing, but Greek life is so much more than just a party. It's a commitment. Philanthropy, fundraisers, dues, initiation, etc.. It's beyond what you could imagine and once you understand the meaning of everything, it means that much more to you. It's an honor to be a Greek. We wear our letters with pride and don't bat an eye to those who despise us because we know what it means to wear our letters.

4. 4.0

Many of you will probably want to punch me after I say this. But, getting a 4.0 in college. Good luck. For those of you who have a 4.0 right now in high school, congratulations. All of those AP classes and extracurricular activities paid off.

Now multiply that by 50 and you have college. Want to graduate Summa Cum Laude? Work your ass off. Don't join Greek Life in your first year, especially the first semester, it only makes it THAT much harder.

5. Major/minor

Don't pick something just because it sounds cool or you were good at it in high school. You may not have something you are completely passionate about. That can be a good thing.

Get your basics out of the way, take a class or two each semester from different majors/minors and allow yourself to experience before going into something that you could regret later.

6. On-campus activities/concerts

Go to them. You will get bored and you will want to have something to do. I understand you are shy, but they have activities that allow you to become more open and express yourself. Go, make friends, have a great time, enjoy yourself.

Don't sit in your room on your bed watching Netflix 24/7 and then regret not going to the water balloon fight the next day. They do these activities for all students, all they ask is you bring your student ID. It's a complete blast and a great way to make some fun college memories without partying.

7. Loans

Steer away from them as much as possible. That's really the only thing I have to say about it.

8. Work

Get a job. There will be expenses at school that you wouldn't have ever thought of. Trust me when I say take advantage of work-study positions and places that are hiring close to campus.

Cover Image Credit: @theswirlblog

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School Funding Matters

A rich, robust, well-resourced public education is one of the best routes out of poverty and a pathway to prosperity.

In 2014, the U.S. ranked at the bottom of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s countries for graduation rates. This is a huge concern our country faces: American youth do not receive the educational opportunities that they need and deserve to be able to compete in today’s global society.

In some areas, schools are unable to provide for their students because they lack the proper resources. In rural areas, students are less likely to do well on End-of-Course (EOC) exams and have lower graduation rates than other areas. Local school districts base their funding on property tax (local government source of revenue), formula assistance (state source of revenue), and a special education grant (federal government source of revenue). It is not fair to the students and faculty that attend schools with minimal funding because it reduces their chance of success.

Think about how some schools are able to provide iPads, updated computers, and SmartBoards to all their classes in comparison with schools that use outdated textbooks and do not have enough resources to provide for the teachers and classes. Some schools have classes like digital media or astronomy, while others do not. This all boils down to the funding and resources available.

Rural school districts are lower performing academically in comparison to their urban and suburban counterparts. However, rural school districts have greater levels of parental and community involvement and lower student-teacher ratios. The big issue is that rural school districts are not getting the fair amount of funds, which affects the poor and minority students in those areas.

Rural school districts generally have a smaller amount of financial resources and, therefore, are unable to meet typical necessities. such as purchasing new textbooks or funding bus transportation. There are also new challenges, such as providing services to the increasing number of English Language Learners.

With a limited budget, there is a difficulty in teacher recruitment and development, and poorly funded school districts are unable to meet the expectation of other districts. For example, they are unable to match the salaries and development opportunities offered in other areas which reduces the number of advanced degree teachers and forces teachers to look to other areas in order to be able to provide for their own families.

In my opinion, students are able to retain more information when they are in a better environment and have access to the necessary educational resources. Schools that do not have sufficient materials show lower test scores and less student participation. Also, teachers are able to create more inclusive lessons when provided with the materials and equipment to teach.

Unequal funding to school districts is a social problem that should be our top priority. The government has tried to solve this problem by creating multiple federal policies; however, school districts are still suffering from unequal funding.

Schools that are capable of providing a respectable learning environment will be able to get kids to value their future through becoming better learners. With equal funding and resources, more school districts will have a fair chance at providing students and teachers with the best opportunities for success.

Cover Image Credit: Laurie Sullivan

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