What my MIT essay (sort of) looks like...
Language: Bahasa Indonesia and English
Baru-baru ini, aku meng-post sebuah esai di table.id dengan rangka mengikuti "OSN Short Story Competition." Yah, jujur pada awalnya sih malas ya haha buat nulisnya (karena kemarin lagi jalan-jalan ke luar negeri), tetapi setelah dibujuk oleh salah satu creator website tsb (yang jg merupakan temen alumni TOBI 2014), ya akhirnya aku menyempatkan waktu untuk menulisnya.
Awalnya sih bingung mau nulis apa. Setelah mengikuti OSN 4 kali (2010-2013), jujur aku banyak sekali cerita perjuangan dan pengalaman unik, baik milik pribadi sendiri maupun punya temen-temenku (dulu pas pelatnas aku dikenal tukang bercerita. Tapi bercerita =/= bergosip ya). Aku bisa aja menceritakan pengalaman gagal OSN 2010 (which kinda served as my wake-up call, yang membuat aku menjalani OSN lebih serius). Bisa juga cerita tentang tahun depannya lagi, OSN 2011, dimana aku ketika namanya ga dipanggil medali perak lgsg nangis tersedu-sedu, kabarin keluarga di rumah kalau aku gagal lagi (tapi ternyata malah dapat emas ke-4). Bisa juga cerita tentang OSN 2012, dimana aku yang merupakan perwakilan provinsi (dan peringkat 247 nasional saat OSP, tahu darimana peringkatnya, ada aja deh haha....) bisa tembus ke peringkat 25 pas tingkat nasional (medali perunggu). Bisa juga cerita bagaimana aku dengan sengaja buang kesempatan beasiswa untuk ambil SMA di Singapur, hanya karena masih pingin ikut olim pas SMA. Banyak deh cerita pengalaman temen-temen seperjuangan / kontingen yang tak kalah serunya.
Tapi ya... aku memang pemalas sih orangnya. Malas nulis cerita baru. Atau mungkin aku terlalu perfeksionis. Mau nulis, tapi ga mau asal nulis aja, pingin ceritanya kelihatan bagus tidak dari hanya segi bahasa, tapi alur ceritanya juga. Pingin cerita yang terasa 'personal', yang mudah untuk di-relate to. Eh, tapi bukan untuk menang lombanya ya. Aku sih ga peduli sebenarnya menang atau tidak kompetisi short story ini (walau memang hadiahnya cukup menggiurkan). Yang aku paling ku inginkan adalah menginspirasi adik-adik, terutama yang dari berasal dari daerah, bahwa kita bisa berkompetisi di tingkat nasional; ga perlu takut ah sama anak-anak 'kota'.
Akhirnya, aku memutuskan untuk menyampaikan cerita OSN 2013, OSN terakhirku. FYI, cerita ini juga merupakan salah satu cerita yang kutuliskan di aplikasi ku ke MIT. Tapi tentunya, yang kutulis di sini adalah hasil modifikasi (ekspansi cerita sehingga lebih kerasa perasaan dan pikiranku pada saat itu), karena esai MIT ada word limit-nya (250 words). Jadi, bagi temen-temen yang mau daftar ke MIT, bisa pakai esai ini sebagai contoh, kira-kira apasih cerita yang MIT cari di aplikasi anda (bukannya mau pamer ya).
Anyway, ceritanya bisa dibaca di https://table.id/posts/osn-story-everything-starts-with-a-dream, atau dibawah ini (in case websitenya ga bisa diakses lagi). Enjoy (it's in English, btw)!
Everything starts with a dream...
… and it has always been my dream since middle school to participate in the International Biology Olympiad (IBO), raising the Indonesian flag at the world stage. Foolishly enough though, I was once a skeptic of my own dream. For the longest time, I acted as if my dream was just some distant fantasy, and never a plausible reality.
That was precisely my downfall.
My first shot at IBO ended with an utter disappointment. Despite (surprisingly, unbeknownst to me at the time) placing third on the top 16 round of Pelatnas (Pelatihan Nasional), I screwed up the last round of selection and ultimately lost my spot on the team.
I was devastated.
Partly because I’ve wasted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And partly because I’ve let my dear friends and family down. But on top of it all, I was devastated because I started out never believing that I could ever make the IBO team just because I was already too scared of my competition. Despite wanting IBO so much, I didn’t give my best from day one; I might as well have lost the fight even before it started. Perhaps things could’ve gone differently if I had the right mindset, and maybe then I would’ve pushed myself harder. Nevertheless, the past won’t change, and you know what they say, regrets always come last.
Fortunately, I had another shot at redemption: Olimpiade Sains Nasional (OSN) Bandung 2013. The stakes were especially high this time; being a former top 8 and all, I had to win gold to qualify for Pelatnas again. And honestly, I was terrified. The idea of failing all over again often gave me nightmares, but then again, I wanted to prove something. This time, I wanted to make my impossible DREAM come true. I wanted to show that anyone can be whoever they dare to dream to be, regardless of his background, as long as he is willing to put in the hard work. At least, if I am going to fail again, I am going to go down with my all on the table and no regrets behind.
Four months past, and the awaited day finally came. I spent my entire school break studying for the Olympiad cause I knew things wouldn’t go easy. The competition was stacked: there were roughly 15 Pelatnas veterans in the competition, including the recently crowned IBO 2013 silver medalist. In addition, my old friends from IJSO (International Junior Science Olympiad) were also competing, and I obviously couldn’t discount anyone in general. I became slightly discouraged, but I’ve come this far, so I might as well see it through.
Coming in, I knew that if I was going to ever have the slightest bit of chance of getting gold, I had to excel at the practical exam, which luckily was my best forte. However, on the day of that exam, I wasn’t feeling all that well. I continued still, thinking it wasn't going to be a problem. My moment of truth later came during the plant anatomy exam, where we were tasked to make leaf, stem and root cross-sections. Before we started, we were cautioned to be extra careful when handling the sharp razor blades. I smirked a bit, “Who could possibly injure himself with such tiny blades?”
Funny how shit always happens to arrogant bastards.
Unmindful of the warning, I began slicing through the specimens immediately after the bell rang. I rushed as quickly as I could, until suddenly my finger slipped; I stabbed my index finger deep. Blood gushed out of my finger. I tried to endure the pain and continue working, but eventually my bloody finger felt numb. I finally raised my hand for medical treatment but even after the help, I still experienced the disturbing pain.
I f’ked up. Again. Only this time, it might have cost me my chance at IBO, forever.
Feeling dizzy and cold, I panicked. I lost precious time, and I could no longer make proper cross-section with my dominant hand. At that moment, I teared up and wanted to give up, but I kept reminding myself of how badly I wanted the IBO and all the stress and struggles I’d gone through to get there. I convinced myself that the pain was bearable and forced myself to finish the exam. In the end, with blissful tears, I walked proudly to the stage as I was proclaimed as the top gold medalist of OSN 2013 with the best practical score.
So you see, everything starts with a dream.
Had I not had IBO in my mind for 4 long years, I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish the “hardest” practical exam of my career.
You know what they say, “If your dreams don’t scare you, then it ain’t big enough.” (Dreams – Life of Dillon). And now I can proudly call myself an IBO 2014 gold medalist.