Eight young runners in a staggered set holding their batons at the starting line, three of their teammates spread across the rest of the track pacing, anxious, waiting for their turn. The gun sounds and the race begins.
Alternating positions around the corners and down the straightaways, each young girl snatching her chance to run, run, run, only thinking of passing on that baton for the next step to victory.
Then the last runner cradles the baton in her hand and sprints to the finish line. She's racing to the ribbon with ribbons in her own hair.
Then she falls...
And rolls on the floor a couple times before looking up at the crowd with what must have been embarrassment, or anger, or maybe even fear. Concerned coaches and trainers come rushing out to her aid but before they can attend to her injuries she lifts herself to her feet and finishes the race.
Everyone claps and acknowledges what they have witnessed is a winner.
I think of a line I heard from a song on the radio: "I rather lose the fight than miss the war."*
I think of something I saw on TV a few mornings later. Hilary Duff is talking about moving out to Los Angeles at 10 years old and being rejected 200 times at auditions.
Two hundred times.
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." **
I would love to be able to follow the young girl I saw fall today, five years from now, ten years from now. Nothing is guaranteed but her will is undeniable. What are you passionate enough about to pursue after getting told "NO" 200 times? What pushes you to get back up after everyone you know and love and care about has seen you fall?
For all the success I've had, I've been told no much more than I've been told yes. But I'm sure of who I am and what I do so those no's are milestones to be celebrated even if they sting. The more painful, the closer I am.