The Universal Lessons I Learned From Case Competitions

With a total of two years of case comps under my belt, I have competed in five disciplines, earned two podiums, and made hundreds of friends in the process. Case breaking is one of the best ways to…


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Sweat leaked from the pores on his skin like water flowing out through cupped hands. Each drop was like thunder when it hit the ground. Boom. Echoing across for miles. His hair was matted and hung heavy on his forehead. Eyes twinkling. Expression indiscernible. The smell of salt hung about loosely like too big clothes on a homeless person and sticky wet beads of moisture lined his face. The taste of a hollow emptiness on his tongue, the feel of old and worn down limbs on his feet. Everything falls apart. Each footstep, when he bothered to take them was a creak, the hinges in his feet rusty, unoiled and wearing down faster than paper burning in an inferno. His stomach felt heavy and nauseatingly empty. Both at the very same time. The evil laughter of the blue fire that stood in front of him, the objects on top of it cackling as they burnt in delusion. As they were slowly transfigured. Alchemy to some. Stone to gold. To the objects themselves, pure, undeniable pain. Imagine if your skin was burning. Would the pool of human goo be alchemy? Or would the simultaneous stimulation in pain of your largest organ be torture? He brushed the sweat off his forehead with the back side of his hand. As the only layer blocking his open pores from all the salt and spice in the air went away, his forehead began to burn. He winced internally. Burn was the appropriate word. It felt as his forehead were the canvas, the arid savanna, and every few seconds, a fire would rage across it. Wildfire. Sparks. A few seconds later, it would subside. And then begin anew. Every few seconds was an experiment in pain. And the pain was exquisite. Beautiful. Excruciating. And then the release. It was freeing. In that moment, there was nothing else. In that moment, he was free. The pain was gone. The sweat meant nothing. He couldn’t feel it. The hot and the cold. It was comfortable. The creaks in his ankles were no longer there. At that moment, there was release. Relief. And as quickly as it had come, it left. We may be complacent, but we do not — maybe we are afraid to — enjoy a good thing. The worries of the world returned, rather illogically. Then a fear. What if they were permanent. What if they would stay with him for the rest of lif- and so it was with him. The discomfort of being still. His right wrist was now suffering from the pain of the savanna fire. This one was more long term though. Not ephemeral. Not moody. This one was consistent. He wondered what it was. As he focused on it, it spread to his fourth finger, ignoring some points in between. Now it was in the knuckle, now it was between the knuckle and the center. The pain was- his head popped forward onto the glass counter. The blood continued to spurt from his slit wrists. This was how they would find him.

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