It’s Darkest Before Dawn

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Sai Hossain

· 10/17/2013

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It’s the start of April 2011 and I am in college barely making it by. School swallows up so much time that I can’t do client work to get any cash. My stomach, finances, academics, and motivation is struggling. I’m going broke fast and asking my family for money is simply not an option.

A friend informs me about a competition at our university where students submit websites they’ve worked on. There are five categories and the second prize winners in each category wins $500 while the winners get $1000. One of those categories is “personal websites”. I think maybe, just maybe, I could win second place. So with my pockets empty and my old website rotting, I get cracking.
Days pass as I ignore my schoolwork to design and build a new site on top of wordpress, something I hadn’t really done before. During this time I discover one of the fundamental laws of the universe:

“Everything will always take twice as long as expected.”

On the night of the deadline, as the clock ticked closer and closer to the midnight, I draw the line at “good enough” and hit submit. While I am at it, I throw in another website from a side project I have been working on for a category I’m not really sure it belongs to. So the wait begins.
It’s April 7th, the day of the awards ceremony. I wake to an email from my bank, my account just went negative thanks to an overdraft. Great. I slowly meander over to the ceremony. Completely demoralized, I start thinking how silly it is to have spent so much time on this gamble. At a school this big I was crazy to think I had a chance.
I arrive, take a seat at a table, and proceed to be amazed by the quality of my competitors. Not to mention most of the websites submitted were actually built by teams of people, not just a kid. All remaining hope sizzles away. The announcements begin and the first category comes up. Not my category, phew. While they list the winners I think to myself how insignificant this competition was to most of these kids. Most had parents paying for their education. Most had a stipend to spend on things like food. Most had a safety net, I did not.
They start listing the winners for the “personal websites” category. And the runner up is…..not me. The runner up stands, shakes a hand, accepts a certificate, takes a photo, and sits back down. Second place………..still not me. Well that’s it, I blew it. I stop listening and drift away into the recesses of my mind. How am I going to eat tonight? Am I going to have to beg friends for food? My thoughts still racing, someone at the table taps my shoulder. I look up and as the sounds fade back in I hear someone say, “Saidur Hossain……is Saidur Hossain here?”. Holy moly. I muster whatever energy I could to stumble up, weakly shake a hand, take the certificate, take a very awkward looking photo, and sit back down. Absolutely dazed. I just won $1000 dollars. My life is complete.
Or so I thought. In the haze I hear my name again in the distance. Maybe there was an issue? I get up to realize that I just won first place…..again? That second website I threw in last minute just won it’s category as well. With a negative bank account, I had just won $2000.
I spent the following summer working around the clock on my craft, determined not to let myself get that low again. Things since have only gotten better and I am unbelievably grateful.
You don’t know when the good times are until you have been through the bad.