Picture of Carmelle Francesca Plabasan

Carmelle Francesca Plabasan


Picture of Julia Dominique Peñalba

Julia Dominique Peñalba

Layout Artist

Silver from the Dirt


Second place.

After the sleepless nights, the hard-fought battles, the slivers of yourself that you’ve offered to countless moments of silent sacrifice, you’ve reached this point. These are the snapshots in time, the junctures that will define your place in this world. Yet no one will witness them, except for you. No one will know how much of yourself you’ve given up, only to be rewarded with second place. 

You are second best. In your mind, that means you are the first loser. So close to clinching the gold and the glory of being the best, only falling short to someone more gifted. No one will know the agony. There will always be someone better than you. No one wanders through the passage of time and surfaces unscathed. No one fights for their place in this life and emerges undefeated. 

But it feels like a curse. You have done everything you possibly can, and yet somebody will always be better. Meanwhile, you are left desperately flocking for the crumbs of triumph, settling for the dignity of almost. Afflicted with banality, silver will forever remain in gold’s shadow. 

But you cannot wallow in your tears or afford even a single second to rest, terrified at becoming complacent. You have a vast assortment of silver medals that you consider harrowing mementos because all you really desire to achieve, for once, is gold. So you repeat the sleepless nights and the hard-fought battles. This time, you take more of yourself and offer entire fragments of your soul, in the hopes that some benevolent deity out there might have mercy and bestow your life’s greatest wish. But alas, someone else has secured the victory once more. Someone else has won the gold. 

Now you feel downright helpless. While somebody else was gifted with saplings of talent at a young age, you’ve been concentrating all your time searching for your seeds and waiting for them to bloom, so you can catch up to the towering trees of the naturally gifted. Lucky them, for having an inherent flair for a particular field while others toil and grind away for even a modicum of their expertise. Hard work surrenders in the face of such a gift. 

But envy strangles. Worse, comparison kills.

You would give anything for a single gold. No one looks twice at silver when gold is in their reach. In a world defined by your place in it, results matter most. 

But in that same world, a sapling doesn’t simply grow into a towering tree just because it is a sapling, just as a shrub doesn’t simply bear fruit just because it is a shrub. There, seeds bloom when buried in the dirt, but finding the tenacity to remain rooted, when battered by the brutal storms, yet standing tall and unyielding regardless. In this world, only the right conditions can cause efflorescence. In this world, only with grit, mettle, and diligence can the flowers bloom. 

Your silver medals tell a more powerful, more meaningful story than loss. Their reflections narrate a tale of sleepless nights, hard-fought battles, and pieces of yourself. 

There will always be somebody better than you, gifted with the saplings of natural abilities at a young age, and then bloomed into a formidable force of prowess. Meanwhile, you will have to sow your own seeds and patiently wait for them to bloom. You will lose more and more hope each day because others are soaring, and you will lose faith in your own skills. 

But neither sapling nor seed will blossom without the essential ingredients of determination and persistence. Neither can bring home the gold without the right conditions. We all bloom in our own time, on our own terms, by our own progress. The most quintessential of flowers blossom in adversity, through effort and dedication. 

You look closely at your reflection in those silver medals. You remember the times when your driving force was passion. Then, you see the strength you have forged in the dirt, through the torrential rains, and the powerful winds that you have withstood. You see a story of second place, but not of first loser. In its place, you see the flowers blooming all over your soul. You see the patches of silver. You see your triumphs, not against others, but against yourself. 

In a world defined by your place in it, all that matters is the meaning you assign to your own victories. To cultivate your talents without forsaking your own happiness. To live a life of silver, but surrounded by the diverse colors of the flowers you have made bloom. To shine amongst countless stars, but burn with the flames of passion. To be cursed with banality, but blessed with ambition. To sow your own seeds of talent, so they may sprout through dedication.

Once upon a time, gold was not your aspiration; it was a mechanism, a fortunate side effect of your endeavors toward your ambitions. 

You look at the silver, and you see your own reflection. You see it twist into a younger version of yourself from a time when you were simply driven by the urge to capture every moment, down to the very millisecond, doing what you loved. You see the joy in the small achievements, your face beaming with hope and delight in simply watching a seed sprout. Then, you return to the present and you stare at the silver medals once more. You must have been a magician in your past life, or a sorcerer of the highest rank. 

You created silver from the dirt, after all.