Today is the career fair (which is a big deal here) and I’ve had recruiters ask me some questions that made me ponder afterwards.
My favorite one so far has been “what’s your proudest achievement?”
I thought of a lot of responses, technical and not, but when I thought about it later, a specific one from high school came to mind.
When I was middle school I was substantially overweight so I decided to join a sport freshman year of high school. I figured I’d do swimming because it meant I had to be almost naked all the time which would help me with my shyness (by the end I could go streaking without giving a fuck, but that’s beside the point).
In swimming I met my favorite teacher, my swim coach, who ended up being my high school mentor. And I remember specifically that at the beginning of the year she showed us (the freshmen) a box of swim suits. They were banana hammocks, built with hybrid materials to resist wear and minimize drag. While that may not sound like much, I took them a symbol for a sigil for the elite of the school. She told us they were reserved for athletes that made regional finals.
I was so hypnotized by those swimsuits that I made it my goal freshman year to receive one.
While other kids were giving me morbid looks because of my body (something that wouldn’t last more than 6 months), I had my eyes set on those swimsuits. I trained all year, sometimes twice a day, because that’s how bad I wanted one.
Well the day of the districts swim meet came and it showed my work had paid off. It almost earned me a metal and I advanced to regionals.
The day of regionals came and this time I was worried, since all the best districts of the metroplex were there. My events came and I swam my heart out. Then came the wait… had I advanced to regional finals? An hour later the judges posted the rankings and I was 2 spots away from making it to regional finals.
I felt shattered. All the hard work I had done all year felt wasted. I sat at the back of bus on the ride back.
When we got back coach sensed what was wrong so she pulled me aside and talked to me. And I told her how I felt. And, for the life of me, I can’t remember exactly what she said to me (something around the lines of “your work has not been wasted, this is a building block, all the kids at that meet swim club outside of school”, and swim clubs are expensive so my family couldn’t afford it).
Anyways, whatever it was she said to me, it clicked. So I went back home, had a nice meal and slept.
The next week I was back at it again, during off season, then during regular season.
Sophmore year’s districts came and I killed. Regionals came and I was nervous.
I swam my heart out again. Waited anxiously for the results and I prevailed. I made it to regional finals.
The coach was quiet the entire ride back. When we got back she didn’t speak a word to anyone, she went straight for the storage room opened the box and handed me one of the suits. She congratulated me and she hugged me.
THAT was the proudest moment of high school. I felt I was free. I felt I could literally do anything. I felt invincible and breathless. I can’t describe it.
I didn’t make it to state (holy shit those other fuckers are fast) and that was the last year coach was in charge of the team but I won’t forget it. I still talk to her to this day, she’s coming to my university graduation.
I don’t know why I’m posting this here, nobody other than me cares about it, but I felt like I needed to tell someone.