The only thing that outshines my obsession with badminton is writing. While I have been less willing to travel (my third life obsession) for badminton, I obviously haven’t been willing to stop writing because of it. I mean, I started this damn blog as an excuse to keep writing!
And my two loves came together again this week!
I won a badminton writing award. In Chinese. Holy crap!
This is the same competition that I played in, and won 5th place, several weeks ago. This is a multi-layered, weeks long competition with each level getting harder and more organized. As I wasn’t on any of the local group teams, I wasn’t allowed to continue even though I played okay. (More on that later.)
But before I played, on the group chat, the organizer mentioned he would like people to write an essay about badminton. Me being me, I whipped one out and sent it to him. I’ll be honest, I didn’t put a ton of time or effort into it (you see how sloppy I am with English grammar and spelling, I’m the same in Chinese) but I sent it to Azhi, my partner, and a few other Chinese friends to make sure it was understandable.
I didn’t even realize I entered a contest for a few weeks. I thought it was just for fun. Like, a community newsletter or something. Azhi was the one that pointed out the essay part was a competition, and I could even win money. If I had known that, maybe I would have worked on it a little harder.
But it was good enough to place and on Christmas Eve I had to stand in front of everyone and accept an award. I got honorable mention with, literally a 10-year-old boy (and some other adults), but I’m still proud dammit! And due to my unique “foreigner” status I ended up being featured in all the announcements.
The awards were given out at the end of the last stage of the competition so I went early to watch. I went by myself, assuming that I would recognize people, but ended up sitting alone for most of it. While I recognized a few people, most I didn’t.
I assumed because I play so much, and know so many people in my coaches gym, I would just know people. This is Jimei after all, my little part of the city.
But the population of this area is 500,000 and turns out a LOT more people play badminton here than I realized. I sat awkwardly alone, smiling and waving at a few people I knew, but that was it. I was feeling really uncool and all my childhood insecurities of not being in the popular crowd came back.
Luckily, right before the final game, I felt a tap on my shoulder and saw someone who is a closer friend. She’s the top female badminton player in Ximen city, and a semi-pro so she’s as cool as they come. She’s not allowed to play in this local tournament (no pro’s) but she came to watch and THANKFULLY we sat together the rest of the tournament. She knew just about everyone, and with me being with her, suddenly people were friendlier and chattier to me. Getting in with the cool clique really works!
The award ceremony was quick. They had some horrible, mumbling loud speaker system, so I relied on my friend to tell me when I had to go up, since I couldn’t understand anything.
While I was getting the award she took pictures and then because she knew everyone, she stole the other players awards and gave them to me to hold. “Next year you’ll win the writing AND the badminton game,” she said. My certificate came with a 100rmb cash prize as well.
Recognition of my writing, in Chinese, about badminton, was the greatest Christmas gift I could have gotten. I showed my certificate off proudly that night at a party. As each person entered the party I shoved it in their face and wouldn’t let them enjoy the party until they sarcastically and over-the-top praised me. Heh heh….
Christmas day I went out with my friends and…played badminton some more. I could have easily taken the day off, there were parties to go to, but it’s Christmas, and the thing I want to do the most was play badminton. So I did.
For those of you who can read Chinese, this is my humble essay. For those of you who can’t sorry, I don’t really feel like translating it. It’s basically about how I started playing and why I love it so much, even though I’m an American with no background in the sport like Chinese people have. (Different from the essay I wrote during the summer, but the same sentiment.)
Very cool! Glad you had fun and got in with the cool kids. Congrats.