Around Thanksgiving, I applied for a Learn Chinese contest so I would have the chance to win Chinese lessons at the China Institute here in New York. We were asked to submit an image or essay about why we want to learn Chinese. I sent both an image and essay and a couple weeks later found out I was one of three finalists. It was then time to post it on Facebook for the public to vote and ultimately choose the winner.
With all the finals chaos- moving out, finishing up academic matters, meeting up with friends- I posted it online a day late. I sent out an email to a group of my close friends and people I could count on but surely, that was not enough. During the one and half weeks the submissions have been up, the numbers have reached the hundreds.
Whenever I got votes, one of the other competitors would see that and then surge up in the polls. Sick of all the pinballing, my friend suggested that I implement a strategy. That I did, but now I find myself about 300 votes behind, with no reaction but to shake my head in disbelief. Timing really is everything.
When I was at 87 votes and she at 135, for the first time in years, the other day I spent time on FB chat to ask people personally for votes because apparently no one saw my facebook wall post. The contest ends in January 2 at midnight and at this point, I would need some kind of miracle to win especially since its winter break and people aren’t around their computers as much.
But I’m ok with that. I’m taking this in stride because when one door closes, 3 more open.
Even though I spent hours on hours only to get about 100 votes via personal request on chat, (and she managed to get about 300 in 3 hours) I am actually quite thankful. Asking for votes was a great excuse to talk to people I haven’t spoken to in weeks, months or even years (You know, those facebook friends whose lives you see only glimpses of). By doing this I was able to find out and get updates on what a lot of people were up to, looking forward to, passionate about or even worried about. I was able to listen, or in this case read, whatever they were willing to tell me.
So even though this is a contest that would help me challenge myself and help me learn Chinese… instead, through this process I have learned much about others and myself.
There were those who were quick to judge and assume I was using them for a vote. There were people who not only voted themselves but asked their own friends to vote. There were others who voted and stood by to encourage and keep tabs. Strangers even, who provided advice telling me “Success is all about your ability to market and the hardest thing to market is yourself”. There were those who made ridiculous suggestions for me to get votes. There were those who voted without me even having to ask or voted without hesitation. A few who asked me why I wanted to learn Chinese before voting (see end of post). There were those who I asked and never responded or bothered to.
It’s moments like these when you realize sometimes all you have to do is ask or say something ,otherwise they don’t know. It’s also at times like these where you realize who is a true friend or a “good person”, who is all talk and no action. And even if someone doesn’t vote, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good person (and vice versa). It just also goes to show how sometimes we numb ourselves to avoid responsibility, vulnerability or compassion- how sometimes we allow ourselves to sink into apathy.
I’m extremely humbled and thankful for this experience.
Thank you to those who voted. I can walk away from this knowing that everyone who voted, either voted because I or someone I know personally asked them to or they wanted to and that means so so much to me- I appreciate each vote I have gotten that much more. I walk away with connections rekindled and new connections formed. You can also bet that this won’t stop me from pursuing Chinese.
It’s these small acts of kindess I will remember for sure. And for those who flat out ignored, I will forgive but won’t forget.
Thank you all for such a humbling experience just in time for 2013. I couldn’t do it without you.
My contest submission, explaining why I want to learn chinese:
Happy New Year. Wishing you and yours a very healthy happy new year filled with much love, luck and happiness.
UPDATE: I was a runner up! But I still feel like a winner a heart
“”As you all can see the ball has stopped half way to its porch. It’s suspended there to remind us before we pop the champagne and celebrate the New Year, to stop and reflect on the year that has gone by. To remember both our triumphs and our missteps, our promises made and broken. The times we opened ourselves up to great adventures or close ourself down for fear of getting hurt. Cause that’s what New Year’s is all about, getting another chance. The chance to forgive, to do better, to do more, to give more, to love more. And stop worrying about what if and start embracing what will be. So when that ball drops at midnight, and it will drop, let’s remember to be nice to each other, kind to each other. And not just tonight, but all year long.”— from the movie New Year’s Eve