If anyone is interested in helping me, or seeing how it turned out, this is the final draft of my college application essay. Feedback please? It was Ashley Montagu that said, "The deepest human defeat suffered by human beings is constituted by the difference between what one was capable of becoming and what one has in fact become." Competition is what has driven me throughout my high school career; the differences that Ashley Montagu spoke about have been what have led to the most defining aspects of my high school career. As a bright and dedicated student I have been fortunate to participate in an advanced course called "We the People." Little did I know that this course would simultaneously become my greatest defeat and achievement. Surprisingly enough, I didn't love "We the People" immediately. It was during the first few meetings in the summer before my senior year that I decided I hated "We the People." I didn't know any of my teammates and I definitely did not like waking up at eight in the morning over the summer. After missing a few meetings over the summer due to a trip abroad, I showed up in my We the People classroom seemingly far behind my peers. Due process and bureaucracy were foreign concepts, and everyone around me seemed to know exactly what was going on. It was around this time that I heavily considered even dropping the class. However, I kept going, not knowing what was ahead of me. Amongst the chaos of the first week of school, I was placed into "We the People's Unit Three." In this unit I spent four months heavily studying due process, secession, and political parties with four other students. In these four months I studied harder and more in depth than I ever realized would be necessary. My unit met three days a week outside of school and did drills during class with anyone that would stop for the ten minutes it took us. Now this in and of itself seems frightful in contrast with my previous disdain. Without much explanation, something just clicked. Eight AM on summer mornings didn't seem like a bad idea. I was no longer playing catch up; the subject matter took a hold of me. It wasn't a matter of a class or even a competitive team at this point. I was genuinely interested in all that I could learn. Knowing that Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket tried to secede and form their own nation may never help me in my entry to the real world, but caring enough about the causes and effects on our nation will forever be useful. It isn't so much that knowledge that I've acquired, it's the manner in which I've come across it. After four years of speech and debate and ten of being a musician, I am no stranger to hard work. I've spent months learning a song or writing a speech, but nothing I have ever done before even came close to the level of preparation that was required for "We the People." Anything that was remotely related was studied in one way or another, to fully understand every aspect of the subject. It wasn't that we had to put in all this work; we could have easily not studied over vacations and left "We the People" at school over the weekends. But being part of this team was such an honor to us, that the extra work did not seem like such a stretch, in fact we wanted to do more. Tahoma Senior High School's "We the People" team was legendary. Along with pride a small town has for football and cross country, my school has huge pride in our team. "We the People" is more than any AP class could ever be, it was an elite group to begin with, but the excitement that ran through our twenty six member team was what really defined this team. It wasn't a matter of being good; any team has the potential to be good. It was a matter of finding what would take us over the top. Over the past sixteen years my school had taken fifteen state championships. The pressure to maintain such a title is indescribable, at the same time it wasn't a problem. My "We the People" team was talented, we knew the material, and most of all we genuinely cared about the constitution. I will never be able to appropriately illustrate my sincere appreciation of the American government. All of the intricacies laid out to protect the rights of the people astonish me. In almost every aspect of the current American society I am able to see the roots that our founding fathers planted. This team lit a fire for me, never before have I been so passionate. After this period of four months that seem to define my high school career, a single day seemed to be the defining moment. I found myself marching up the stairs to the Washington State Capitol building alongside my "We the People" team, all dressed in black suits. After opening words that seemed to drone on forever we were set. My team set up in the senate chamber room four. Unit three was to speak last, time was going painfully slow at this point. After watching the other five units perform and set our team up for success. The ten minutes of competition went as smoothly as possible. Everything I had worked for, everything my team had worked for boiled down to this, and we nailed it. Our second round of competition went even better. We walked out of that chamber with a sense of satisfaction in the work that we had done. Waiting for the awards ceremony seemed tedious at the time. We ate pizza on the same stairs that we had walked up, and made small jokes. Finally, all of the state finalist teams filtered into the senate chambers. As the honorable mentions went by my teammates and I breathed with ease, we knew we had this. It was only a matter of time until we went to nationals. Sitting on the edge of Brian Hatfield's chair my "We the People" team was called up to claim our award as first runner up. I wasn't quite sure what had happened. Receiving that second place metal was such a characterizing moment of my life. I will never be able to illustrate the disappointment I felt. My team had to have won, we were all so certain of it. A collection of black suits marched solemnly down the street from the capitol building. If this moment could have been captured on film, it would have epitomized the feeling running through the entire team. Never in my life has defeat affected me so much. I was experienced in competition, I knew how to lose. This shouldn't have been such a big deal, second place is still good. Never in my life have I worked harder for something, never have I been more prepared, and never have I felt like I have deserved to win something so much. Losing didn't seem real to me. I went home in tears and replayed the videos of the competition over and over again. There must have been a mistake, I'd been looking forward to upholding this "We the People" legacy since my freshman year, and suddenly it was all gone. Looking back on it now, I've learned so much more from losing than I ever could have from winning. With losing I gained wisdom. Now this could sound exaggerated in a sense; but "We the People" became my life. Losing that competition was the equivalent of losing someone close to me. After dedicating myself entirely to something, I still fell short. Now, this isn't as disheartening as it may come off. In fact, losing actually prepared me for the real world more than any amount of knowledge on the federal government ever could. Sure it would have been nice to represent Washington State in the national competition, but in doing that I know I wouldn't have had the same opportunity to grow. It is in this case that I learned that the difference of what I was capable of and what I achieved was not equal. The merit of my work greatly outweighed the second place medal displayed in my bedroom. It was from this experience that I feel ready to experience the world outside of High School, because I know the value of my own hard work.