It took me seven minutes and 56 seconds to know when I was experiencing the best moment in my life.
It can be hard to quantify or operationally define such a moment. But I knew when I had mine, I knew it more than I knew my own name.
I sat soaking wet, voice hoarse, and blood pumping. My face was burning and I could not differentiate my sweat from the lake water that had been splashed upon me. We sat in our boat, drifting forward from the momentum that pushed us through the finish-line in just under 8 minutes. I looked in front of me at my fellow oarswomen, as a laugh erupted.
This many months later, I cannot remember what exactly their praises were, or what I returned. What remains with me, however, is the emotion that flooded our boat more than the water had.
The elation that wrapped around the five of us, holding us in that boat, was seemingly impenetrable. I called for my port-side rowers to take a few strokes to send us back to the dock. On the row back, all I could think about was that last 2000 meters.
Not only from the start of the race, but from the start of the season – my boat and I had been ready. Nervous, but ready. I sat at the stern of the boat, facing my rowers at the beginning of the race. My eyes were entirely fixated on aligning the path of our boat to run perfectly parallel to the buoys.
With a wink to my stroke seat, our boat launched and the force exerted in those next few minutes never once ceased. Occasionally seeing other boats gaining on us, I pushed us past our limits and into a space of pure, unbound power.
The agony that seeped out with each stroke was an agony driven by ambition and desire to succeed. As we pulled up to the dock and exited the boat, I could smell a difference in the air.
I looked at my rowers and congratulated them, as we had just become the second fastest boat on the East Coast.
Monika is also part of a phenomenal organization all AIESEC. In conjunction with our partnership with their organization, please see their blog here: