A year ago, I could barely jog continuously for 15 minutes without wanting to hyperventilate. Today, I completed a 10km run within the time limit I aimed for - a time limit hardly impressive for seasoned runners, I know, but definitely an achievement for someone with zero athletic experience for 20 years of my life.
I guess different people celebrate their victories differently - but I've never been the pump-my-fists-into-the-air, flash-a-big-grin, do-the-victory-sign kinda person. With all the achievements I've been proudest of in my life - graduating college on the Dean's List, getting a scholarship to the UK, or this run, I've never been an OMG-I-need-to-call/message-someone-and-tell-them-now! kinda person.
Rather than 'basking' in any success, I prefer to retreat, and have my own space and time to slowly savor what I've accomplished. And when people ask me about it I'm always hesitant to talk about it - maybe it's the Asian modesty thing but I tend to underrate my achievements - like not specifying how high I made it on the Dean's List, or how much the scholarship was for, or how fast I finished the 10k. Notice I still haven't. ;)
Because for me, having people tell me, "Wow, that's amazing!" (not to under-appreciate all the people who have supported me through my life in the least) means far less to me than the personal satisfaction of knowing that I beat not all those other people, but myself. The satisfaction lies not in exceeding other people's expectations, but my own. I've been blessed not to have encountered too many critics in my life. (Not to my face at least, but I guess having an apparently 'initimidating' aura helps. *laugh*) But there are plenty of people who maybe overestimate me a bit - who think, "Aiya you're Crystal what - for you so easy, sure no problem wan!" Like what is that supposed to mean - I'm not human also la?!? Lol.
The best part about challenging myself, beating my previous best, and exceeding my expectations, is that I know the effort that went into it. I know my limits, and I know how much further I've pushed them. No one else but me will truly understand how sweet that kind of personal success tastes - when you're striving to reach new heights not for anyone else but for yourself, to steal a line from L'oreal, "because you're worth it".
Still, even if I don't talk about it, these victories I've mentioned so far are kinda public. Even though people might not know the details or see effort that went into it, people will know something about it. But there are even more personal victories that maybe nobody else but a close friend or two will know anything about. Like deciding, each and every morning you wake up, to be happy. Like letting go of something you've been holding on to for too long. Like choosing to see your parents as allies instead of enemies. And things like that. Things too private to talk about but that take as much courage and effort as the public victories, if not more.
But the private victories - they're often the sweetest ones of all...
...just like romances. The ones you don't need to publicize and prove to the world how happy you are or how 'cute' you look together. That grow and evolve free of prying noses and public arguments. The ones you don't have to untag a million Facebook photos from after Facebook coldly declares you are no longer in a relationship. The ones no one needs to know about at all... the ones you take your own time and space, not that of other people's - to slowly savor it.
I think Facebook lies sometimes. Often, more things are happening not when a person's Wall is abuzz with posts and updates. More things are happening when there are long absences between posts - when real life is being lived, when more things are being enjoyed... in private.
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. -Muhammad Ali
See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls. -Mother Teresa