Signature Strengths Journey – Arabella de Nett

Resilient: Learners Who Work Towards their Personal Best

Their Personal best; whether its academic, sports, music, creative arts, personal best is unique, it isn’t one size fits all. Your personal best doesn’t mean you are the best, it means in your heart you know you’ve tried your hardest, given whatever it is your all and showed resilience in preserving towards your goals.

But what does it mean to me?

Well, at the start of last year I was standing in the kitchen with mum and out of the blue I asked her, mum, if I make it to regional cross country, will you buy me the jumper?

Laughing at me, she said ok.

Now, if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that when sporting abilities were being given out, I drew the short straw, big time; which was partly the reason that made her agree so easily.

However, Part of my personality is that when someone offers me a challenge, I’m not going to stop until its done. No matter if it’s a puzzle, an Ikea flat pack, or in this case to run 4 kilometres; which may not sound like a lot, but trust me, to someone who’s as un-athletic as me, you may as well have signed me up to a marathon.

So, I did what I thought someone in my position should do, and started running, every morning, short distances at first, increasing progressively as weeks went past – at a snail’s pace I might add, but I was running none the less.

March comes around and sign-ups for cross country are announced, it’s at this point the reality of what I’m doing hits me and I realise – what are you doing Arabella, this isn’t maths, you can’t run. I start to compare myself to the other girls whose names are already on the list, telling myself that I won’t stand a chance and that I shouldn’t even bother, because what’s the point if I’m not going to be the best?

Unknowingly, the route I ran each day included the street of a certain teacher in the PD faculty, and when I saw them at the cross-country meeting; they told me they’d seen me out running and were expecting big things from me, knowing full well running was not my forte. They made me realise that I should be proud to put my name on that list, because I had been training just as hard as the others. Now, I had not just my mum, my family and sir to prove wrong, but myself too.

The school carnival came around, I struggled through it, nearly died but I did it, and man was that a good feeling. Even though it was hot, the middle of the day and my first time running that far, I made myself keep going, and after 25 odd minutes, I came 5th.…

Out of 5. But beside the point I was through to zone, which meant I was one step closer to regionals. I trained some more over the next month and zone finally came around. I was really really nervous, I remember the butterflies in my stomach as I counted the 16 odd girls standing at the starting line, realising this time only 10 of us would go through, which made me want it even more. I tried my hardest, running the whole way at Arabella speed, the jumper I would get for finishing at the centre of my thoughts. I remember my mathematical brain counting all the people in front of me and how many I would need to overtake as I ran.

We were about 500 or so metres out from the finish and I was coming 11th, I saw the girl slightly ahead of me and ran like I’d never ran before (which was easy to do because I had never run before).
I remember seeing sirs face and the other girls from Kirrawee who’d already finished; cheering me on as I (finally) crossed the finish line. I was handed a card and I came 9th. For once, glad my maths had let me down!

A month later, regionals came around, I ran for the last time, finishing 30th out of about 40. Crossing that finish line felt good, mainly because I knew I would never have to run again, but what felt even better was putting on this jumper.

To this day, it is my favourite jumper and every day when I put it on to walk my dog, it reminds me that personal best doesn’t mean we have to be the best, as long as inside we know that we gave something our all and showed resilience when people or obstacles challenged us.

Now, I know this is only a story about regionals in an age group with barely any competitors, and for some people they could do it with their eyes closed, and yes they might be the best, but that would not make my achievements their personal best, and that’s what personal best means to me.

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