Indents mark background information that adds to the reflection but can be skipped to save time.
I keep thinking that I would be indifferent during handing over and farewell because I rarely spoke to my juniors, even if I did, it was little more than workout timings and the occasional “all the way”. Furthermore, I felt more estranged from the team ever since the talk with my coach in which she expressed her disappointment at my lack of determination during training. Her accusations were true, to a small extent, but it only served to make me feel even more deflated about my performance. Apart from that, scholar’s farewell was painfully dry.
I remember joining middle distance being such a relief financially because I no longer needed to skip meals for cello fees after switching over from string orchestra. Initially, I faced training with a relaxed determination- my goal was to improve, and being without sports background and the slowest runner at the time, I felt no pressure to achieve anything in terms of placing in races.
Within the first two months, I kept on breaking personal best timings and it fueled my motivation. I changed my goal from being only second last in the team to representing in Nationals Cross Country. That year, I got a shin splint from overwork and ended up as reserve. The next year, new members were very good and I barely made it into the competing team, only getting to run the race because of two of our best runners falling sick. We were winning in all sorts of smaller competitions leading up to Nationals only to disappoint our coach.
From getting breathless in an 800m race to clocking about 50k of runs in a week was no easy feat. The overwork plus my own obsession of maintaining my record of continuously breaking personal bests made me feel anxiety before every training. Running became a burden instead of passion.
Coach’s words only made me acknowledge that and since then I have felt out of place knowing I was not ready to give my all for team.
Farewell took me back to the beginning of 2016, when I was at peak fitness and performance, when I was determined to do my best in not just training but also academics and in my own character building.
I used to be even more cold and aloof than I am now simply because I was shy and did not know how to respond to affection, especially from people I am not very close with. A friend once commented that hugging me was as warm as hugging an iceberg, unmoving and freezing.
At the start of 2016, I vowed to be more affectionate and caring towards others. I made up with people I have hurt and those who have hurt me by extending friendship through simple actions such as lending them cutlery during an outdoors camp so that they could eat. I would consciously look out to see if others needed help. I tried to smile more because my resting face was scary, I even earned many compliments about being very positive, which encouraged me to continue my efforts. Probably because of my overenthusiasm in being warm and caring, I ironically ended up with many constantly sad friends which had a depressing influence on my life. Other than that, giving so much and receiving almost zero reciprocation from people I cared about also made me decide to go back to being distant.
In my farewell notes, a group of juniors specially got me a gift- small and I may never use it but it was the notes that came with it that really made me tear. They wrote about how I tried to make conversation with them on their first day at training while bringing them through drills, saying that they were grateful for my warm welcome that day despite them feeling very awkward and thus remaining silent whenever I spoke to them. That simple action that I have long forgotten is the reason they understood that I was just quiet and not mean or scary.
In growing, I tend to pay so much attention to the areas I am lacking in, so much so that I often forget to keep up what I have done right. Farewell reminded me that despite many failures, some of my efforts did not go to waste and that while it was alright to avoid uncomfortable social situations, I should not allow fear of failure to prevent me from doing what I want to do, which is to be nice (sometimes) because I have now experienced first hand- through how my actions came back to me in a pleasant surprise and what my juniors did for me, the cliche yet unbelievable “small actions can create big change” (or something else along those lines).