Understanding the flow
Way back in high school, I’m fond of joining speaking contests most especially declamation and oration ones. During my senior level, I can say that my speaking skills on this activity are on the moderate to high level. There came the yearly School-based Youth Environmental Science (YES) Camp. It was year 2007 to be exact. Part of the activities was the Extemporaneous Speaking Contest which attracted only few students to join. The Science Club needs to screen participants for this contest as the winner will represent the school for the division level. Finally, the club has selected 2 representatives per year level, and I was one of those who represented the seniors.
The contest proper came in and I came to know the participants I need to compete with. Without any intention of bragging, I told myself, “Kaya kong manalo dito.!” Again, I consider my skills to be at moderate to high level and the challenge of the competition to be low to moderate. Working on that, it was a combination of little anxiety and excitement while I was waiting for my turn (hence slight worry, more of control). In the end, I won the competition. Some of the audience even told me that they really “expected” the result.
On that same day, I was informed by my coach that I need to practice more for the coming division level where I need to compete with around 15-20 schools in a few weeks’ time. During that moment, the challenge level increases for I don’t have any idea at all about the abilities of my future competitors. It’s clear to me that the pressure substantially increased and so I need to align my skills to meet the balance between the two. I really worked hard to meet my goal. Of course, no one wants to join and just lose on a competition. I’m thankful that my mentors were all supportive who greatly facilitated my skills in learning more. By that time, I have to say that both the challenge and my skills levels were on moderate to high range. Out of alternating anxiety and confidence, the entire experience became unique and remarkable. I just kept on saying “I can do this. We can do this.” I wasn’t expecting at all to win the contest as I hear many remarks in favour of the other participants. However, during the judges’ announcement of winners, I was surprised that I landed on the first spot.
To continue my story, I continued practicing and preparing myself for the next level, regional competition (WOW! Pressure!). Undoubtedly, the challenge level was on its highest, while my skills (I have to believe so, I’m an optimistic person) tend to be also on its peak. Considering that both factors were on the highest level, I was supposed to experience the “flow.” Admittedly, knowing the fact that I will be battling with the bests of the bests, high levels of anxiety and nervousness predominated my entire being. It was then an uncomfortable feeling. I was about to back out as I hear others saying, “Sure nang panalo si _____. Ang galing grabe.” This I think was one of the inhibitive conditions during that time along with the pessimistic aura I was having. I was able to hear these remarks as I am contestant number 22, second to the last in the list. However, when my adviser and mentor approached me and gave me words of encouragement, I became more motivated and confident with my own skills. I was pretty aware of the anxiety-provoking competition, but that time, it made me realize that I was good enough to reach that far. So, instead of being negative, I came to enjoy the atmosphere while waiting for my turn. I prayed several times, and a wonderful feeling has flown into my totality. It was such a great experience. I didn’t actually win in this level, but the elating feeling I had after the competition was even more pronounced than the times I won in the preceding levels. I believe this has something to do with the so-called flow.
Based on this experience, I can say that flow is an experience that can be influenced by others. It’s a combination of both internal and external factors. First, you have to believe in yourself that you can do something.
It all starts from within. But, in case that you’re losing the track for whatsoever reasons, someone or something can help you regain it. In my presented story, my teacher-coach was then the one who became instrumental in facilitating my experience of flow. Cheers! 😀