Race against Time

After reading the essay written by my 14-year old cousin for her Creative Writing classwork, I found several insightful lessons within, that I could not help but share both the piece and the lessons. Thanks Orowo, I love you. Enjoy! —-

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The bleak whiteness of my English essay paper shot me back to reality. As I anxiously looked around the plain-walled classroom, my gaze fell and rested on the round clock hung on the wall at the front. I sized it up intently; well aware of the power it had over the outcome of this exam. In that moment, I decided that I was going to beat time at its own game. There are no alternatives. One last glance was granted to the clock before I took to starting my essay. Tick tock…fifteen minutes into the exams and I was moving strong, well past half a page. I could feel myself within the realm of my story; I too was touching every petal and sniffing every rose just like my character, Sophia, was. As I was walking through the rose fields, my vision blurred by the fusion of colors surrounding me, I stopped dead in mid-motion as I noticed the brisk strokes of Sam’s pen out of the corner of my eyes. I swung to my left with such vigor that I startled myself. The confidence and expertise held in his profile triggered a mixture of jealousy and resentment within me that I struggled to contain.

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Tick tock…halftime. I stared at my paper in disbelief. ‘Have I only written this much?’ At this rate, I was betting my last dollar on my final lucky star. I willed myself to regain control and reappear in the safety of my rose field but the fear that I might be outdone by Sam and possibly some of my other peers kept my mind racing. Tick tock… a hasty glimpse at Sam’s paper confirmed my fears. I was going to fail.  His lengthy essay sent me spiraling into never ending misery. I had lost all hope. No matter how quickly I could write, my end result would still be belittled when set against Sam’s essay. I had lost all confidence in myself. As Sam laid his pen aside on his table I felt stripped of any iota of dignity.

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Tick tock…I retained a blank expression as my script was collected by the invigilator. I gave myself another moment to recall what had just happened, a segment of me hoping it was all false. Then it hit me, as I looked around the plain walled classroom, my gaze resting on the round clock on the wall at the front of the classroom, I came to terms with the root of the problem that led to my outlook on my exam. I was unable to stay true to myself and my abilities but rather got swallowed into anxiety and envy as a result of my competitive nature. In that instant, I knew that I had fallen a slave to myself. I was unable to discipline my own mind and now it had cost me a whole exam. I had not only lost my race against time but also my race against myself.

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The image of a marathon runner came to mind. His swift strides pushing him ahead of more than 12,000 runners but slowly, very slowly, the on looking spectators watched his speed diminish and falter until he came to a complete halt and walked off the track. Within my innermost being, I knew all races couldn’t be won but I couldn’t accept being that racer that dropped out after starting out so strongly. I knew what I was going to do next time, I was going to maintain a non-competitive attitude and have full confidence in myself. But for now, I have failed, I will never forgive myself. —-

What I learned from Orowo’s essay?

First– Know what your race is, identify it and focus on it. She identified hers as a race against time, focused on the task, and started strong.

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Second– It is important to appraise yourself midway. So appraising her progress at the 15 minute mark was great in itself if only she concentrated on her work. Always remember that your competition is your most recent best, and not anyone else.

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Third– Stay on your own lane. Learn to look straight ahead at what lies ahead and not how well you are doing relative to another. That is a key distraction and the discouragement that can result from such can easily erode any confidence and previous progress you may have made.

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Fourth– even when you may have gotten distracted by the progress of your peers, don’t stay there. Every minute counts towards your recovery. But you must also learn to quickly discipline your mind to revert to your own race. Look ahead and let the Sam’s of this world be. Imagine how much more progress she would have made if she won the race against herself by simply running her best time on her lane. If she willed herself to win the race without needing external validation by another’s progress or lack of same. Would she have felt better if Sam was not doing as well? What if Sam dropped his pen first, or requested an extra sheet? Good for him. He’s writing his own essay, I have a word count and I must finish mine.

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Like the marathon runner, I must pace myself through the race. It is not enough to start strong, it is more important to be consistent and finish strong. Never give up until it’s over. How do you know you’ll not be able to win when it’s not yet over? She gave up as soon as she saw how her efforts paled relative to Sam’s. The journey is not over till the end; I must have enough determination to pick myself back up even when my mid-way appraisal does not look so good. I must never give up on myself. I must never lose faith. I must never lose hope; for ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’


Image credits- Google Images


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  1. “Stay on your lane.”

    Lovely essay from your niece and great lessons you’ve drawn from it. Very apt for this last week of the year.

    As usual, you do not fail to bless me life with you words. God bless you!

  2. Wow, did you say she’s 14?! She’s well on the way to being a literary pro! Kudos to her! And kudos to you for pointing out such home truths and giving me cause to reflect and relax. Actually, whenever I have looked around to observe what I perceived as my competition and appraised my progress against theirs, it has always cost me time, energy and the oomph needed to stay in the game. Thanks a whole lot for sharing this piece, and love to your cousin.

    1. Great Eloho. Just a word for me in this season. But I don’t mind getting back to school again just to sound like her. Lol. More Grace!

  3. I am sure others have said this but did you say a 14 year old wrote this? She is very good and I agree with all the lessons you have lifted out of this.
    Especially the stay in your own lane one. Very, very true. Merry Christmas!

  4. 14?!?!!…You don’t say! She’s undoubtedly a perceptive old-young lady! Wowzer! Drew me in every inch of the way…I heart her introspective depth!
    And your points gleaned? Remarkable!
    Thank you for sharing Eloho! I still have no idea why my initial visit and subsequent membership took me this long…ph well, i’m thankful i’m here now.

    Bless your heart ma’am

  5. Fourteen??!??! You don’t say! She’s undoubtedly an old-young lady. Drew me in every inch of the way. I heart her introspective depth.
    And the lessons you gleaned? Absolutely remarkable!
    Bless your heart ma’am!

    P.s; I know not why my initial visit nor subsequent membership has taken this long. Thank God, i’m here to stay now.. 😀

  6. 1. Great post! – ‘the only person you should try to be better than is the personyou were yesterday’
    2. Great easy!!

  7. Sure dear. The path of the just shine brighter and brighter unto a perfect day. Here’s to consistent improvements in our lives. Bless you dear. Run your race!

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