I’ve won a lot of big games in my life, but if we’re being honest I’ve lost a lot of big games too…maybe even more than I’ve won. No one likes to lose. Fact. There is nothing glamorous or heart warming or thrilling about losing. Most of the time it feels like you’ve been punched in the stomach. But the only thing worse than a loser, in my opinion, is a sore loser. The thing is, at some point or another everyone in life loses. Some lose early and some lose late. Some lose a lot and the lucky ones lose a little. But it’s impossible to escape entirely.
Two weeks ago my club team, the Dublin Meteors, had the opportunity to play in the National Cup Final game. We were coming off a winning streak and feeling confident as a team in our chances to take home the cup. To save you the suspense, we ended up losing. Despite the amount of loses I’ve accrued in my lifetime, this one hit me harder than I expected. I knew it would most likely be the last championship I would compete for as a member of a team. There is something indescribable about the transformation you undergo as a team in the quest for a championship. You learn a lot about yourself and your teammates in the process. You grow together as a unit because you share the same mission and ultimate purpose. You learn to put differences aside and pick each other up when you’re down, you become resilient and determined and passionate about the work you’re putting in. More than anything, you fall in love with the journey, so much so that when the final result hits, win or lose, you realize it’s the journey you’ll miss the most. I cried a lot after we lost. I cried because of how close we’d become, and how many of our fans were in attendance. I cried thinking about the hours of hard work we put in and I cried because I felt that I’d let the club and my teammates down. I didn’t care about a piece of metal or a championship title; I cared about what it all stood for.
After the game our team headed to The Goat Pub to share some food and pints in celebration of a great weekend. As I looked around the table, I couldn’t help but think about all that I had gained from this “loss”. Somewhere in between arriving in Ireland and losing the cup game, I had joined a family and settled into a new home. It hurt so much because of how deeply I cared for these people, and the impact they’ve had on my experience thus far. In the end, I think life is about always finding the silver lining. A loss should light a fire inside you to come back that much stronger in pursuit of your goals, but it should never deter you from appreciating the bigger picture. We all lose, we all face adversity; but we get to decide how we respond. We have a choice to make. A week after our cup game, the Patriots went on to lose the super bowl. If you read my last blog post, you can guess how I felt about it. But what touched me the most, was the way that Tom Brady responded. After days of reflection, which I’m sure included tears and anger and regret, he issued a statement. Instead of talking about what went wrong in the game he chose to talk about what he was grateful for. He congratulated the other team and thanked everyone who had made his journey to the Super Bowl so memorable. He lost with grace.
Winning is an amazing feeling, but to me, true victory comes from always finding the silver lining in a situation, win or lose. The grief you feel from a loss is simply a reminder that you’ve loved and cared and lived. I think that we should all aspire for victory and inspire victory in others. At our lowest moments, we should strive to remember that life is not about keeping score, it’s not about the result when the game clock hits zero, it’s about the moments leading up to the buzzer. I’m so grateful for the highs and lows that have made the first half of my journey as a victory scholar unforgettable.