The hidden victories of success


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To most people, winning simply means one thing: first place. 

Winning is the golden medal hanging around the victor’s neck. Winning is the definitive moment in time in which you are the best of the best.  

The empowering and legitimizing feelings of a victory are, for many people, the only definition of true success. 

But as I sat at my cross country banquet on Tuesday night, I learned that winning is so much more than a triumphant first place award. I learned that a win is not defined by a score, time, or place, but rather a win is an obvious moment of pure euphoria. 

In technical terms, I never won this year during cross country. I never walked away with a gold medal proudly bouncing off of my chest; I never was the first to cross the long-awaited finish line residing at the end of a grueling, painful race. 

Winning is happiness. Winning is euphoria.

But during this cross country season, I proved to be victorious in more ways than ever in my life before. I ran my personal best time, learned to love a sport that so often only seems to tear you down, and built relationships that will change my life until it comes to an end. 

Those are the things that made me victorious. They are the memories and lessons that will forever reside deep within me; they are what will push me to always strive for success no matter how challenging the journey may become.

The small victories I accomplished each day at practice and the greater victories I accomplished as I crossed the finish line of the regional races have all changed my perspective on the seemingly easily defined idea of winning. 

For so many years of my life, I constantly overlooked each triumphant moment for I did not recognize it as a win. If I was not recognized as the champion, my mind would not recognize any form of success or achievement. For far too long, I overlooked life’s true victories. 

As I listened to my best friends speak about the lessons they learned, memories they made, and friendships they formed throughout their journeys with cross country, tears helplessly fell down my face and dripped onto my lap. In this moment, I realized that I had accomplished the greatest victory of all time: happiness. 

When around my beloved teammates, there is nowhere else I would rather be. Through all of the pain, defeat, and struggle, we learned to extend our hands and pull others along in order to reach success as a team. Never would a teammate be left behind to make the journey to prosperity on their own for we realized that the road to victory was made possible by the girls running directly to your left and right. 

This year, winning to me became so much more than simply first place. 

Winning is happiness. Winning is euphoria.