<p>I'd appretiate some feedback on this essay, which is going under the Common Apps topic of a meaningful experience. Thanks for taking the time to read it. </p>
<p>Depending on how one looks at it, one might see the new plaque that resides in the trophy case outside the Benet Academy gymnasium either as the commemoration of a remarkable season or as one of those records that is so agonizingly close to perfection that one cannot help but fixate on the single flaw. The plaque reads:
Boys Frosh-Soph Tennis
For a while, I succumbed to the fixation, but not without reason: I was the 1.
I always hated losing. When I discovered that I could not fairly guarantee victory in Candy Land against my little sister, I surreptitiously shuffled the cards to ensure that my next draw would reveal Princess Lollys smiling face. As a little league pitcher, I would jerk the bill of my cap down over my eyes to hide the tears from my parents, coaches, and teammates when the game did not go my way.<br>
As someone who had sobbed on the mound not many years before, I was traumatized by my failure in an otherwise perfect tennis season. For days I dwelt on every double fault, every mental error. Each of these mistakes, if corrected, would have placed me one step closer to success and my team a stride nearer to perfection. It took me about two weeks, however, to realize that there was something besides victory missing from my obsessive contemplation of the match. I soon realized that even if I had won, I might still be replaying the match in my mind, happily recalling how I had crushed another opponent with my overpowering serve. This would be no more constructive than my negative preoccupation, for even if I won every tennis match that I played, mere victories could not make me the person I wanted to be.
Losing that match taught me that life contains elements far more important than the quest to come out on top. While I would never give up the excitement tennis provides, I learned to keep the sport in its proper place in my life.<br>
The end of my obsession with winning actually made me a better tennis player. Each time I stepped onto the court, I shifted my focus away from the outcome and instead concentrated on the play. By reducing the game to its smallest elementsthe trajectory of the ball coming toward me, the position of my feet, the path of my swing, the feel of the ball on the stringsI learned that the part of the game that was beyond my controlthe outcomewould take care of itself. While competitive sports, especially tennis, will be an important part of my life as long as I can play, the experience of being the 1 taught me one of the key differences between sport and life: In life, the winner is often not the victor.
When I look at the plaque now, I no longer see myself reflected in the loss column. While I still have to endure the jibes of teammates for having spoiled our perfect season (one wrote thanks Gary next to the 69-1 in my yearbook), I would not trade the experience or the broader perspective and deeper understanding that it has brought to me. This understanding is not that losing is an inherently more valuable experience than winning; it is that the value of all experience truly does depend on how one looks at it.</p>