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Commonwealth Essay Contest 2021

How I won the Gold Finalist Award - and what it meant to me.

Hello! It’s been a long time since we’ve last talked – I really do apologise for that as I was really busy with exams, but I’m back with some good news! Recently, I took part in the Senior Category of Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition and walked away with a Gold Finalist Award. This means that out of more than 26 thousand entries this year, my entry was one of 171 selected by the final judging panel to be considered as candidates for winner and runner-up! In this entry, I will be detailing more about this wonderful experience, attaching my essay at the back in case anyone wants to read it!

My relationship with writing has always been somewhat of a love-hate relationship. I know, it’s surprising, considering I run a language blog here, but I used to average only about 27.5/40 for compositions back in elementary school.

Ever since I entered middle school, though, I began taking a special interest in writing. Perhaps it was because my friends had all ventured a little into the world of writing, but I joined them and posted some of my essays online. In the early days, my stories were so bad that I can’t even bear to look back at them now, but eventually with feedback and practice, I improved greatly.

I’m really proud of my growth as a writer – comparing one of my unbearably cringey, completely illogical stories with the type of fiction I produce now, although I can’t say I’m perfect, I think I’ve improved greatly. Every bit of encouragement I received along the way pushed me along as a writer, giving me motivation and inspiration to continue struggling against writer’s block and time constraints without giving up.

Lately, however, I’d been feeling a slight aversion to writing. I didn’t know whether it was because I had no time or simply no motivation – I couldn’t even brush it off as writer’s block since I had so many ideas, but just no ability to put them on paper. My confidence as a writer declined significantly, with me looking at my empty Google Documents less and less.

I’d stopped uploading my stories online at that point. In hindsight, it was probably the lack of feedback, encouragement and validation that caused me to lose interest in writing and confidence in myself. And at this critical point the results of the Commonwealth Essay Competition came in.

In June, when I’d applied, I had been expecting a Silver Award – or maybe Gold at best, since my friends had received both of these awards before and I thought that we were at about the same level when it came to writing. I’d completely forgotten about it come September until my father reminded me to check my email after seeing the announcement of the winners on his Facebook.

To my utmost pleasant surprise, I opened the email to see a certificate proclaiming me to be a Gold Finalist.

I didn’t know what to feel at that moment. At the same time, I was proud, surprised, delighted… but most of all, it felt like my writing had been validated once more, and that I was capable of writing good essays unlike what my self-deprecation had been telling me – that I hated my own stories, that nobody else would like them. And it restored my confidence in writing. I picked up my unfinished Google Documents from a long time ago. I began writing again, realising that if I didn’t tell the stories living in my head nobody else would. I didn’t hate every single sentence I wrote anymore.

I was happy, happy with my writing, happy for myself that I’d won the award, and so much more.

Here, I think it’d be a good idea to talk a little about the actual content of the essay that I submitted. I wrote about communication in the times of COVID-19, then linked it to homing pigeons and carrier pigeons to show that communication will never be limited as long as people are willing to make the effort to try, even amidst this pandemic.

If you’re curious, you can read my work at the link below! (Click on the words link below)


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