Oftentimes obstacles can be observed down your future path, but they can only be addressed, and overcome, when you reach them. Everyone’s adversity looks different – serious or simple, life-threatening or simply interruptive to life – but obstacles are always frustrating. It’s important to remember that hardships don’t discriminate. Every person has to overcome a problem, regardless of how different it appears, and they might be able to help you through your troubles.
In some cases, hardships make you stronger immediately, but usually you get weaker first which allows you to come back stronger eventually.
As a competitive gymnast, I was no stranger to frustration, pain, and injuries. So many injuries. However, all of these things were minor, because I was doing what I loved. These small things made me resilient, but one day the straw broke the camel’s back…literally. When I was 10, I got the chance to go away to a prestigious gymnastics camp. It was a gymnast’s heaven. They had the biggest gyms I had ever seen, with everything you could think of, and someone waiting to help you finally get that skill you’d been working so hard on. I had the time of my life and was even awarded for my hard work and determination. I couldn’t wait to go back the next summer, and I did.
The next year, I returned home with even more skills, more memories, and a fracture in my spine.
Gymnastics was my life. It’s that simple. It was incorporated into every single thing I did. At school, I wrote stories about gymnastics, I did projects about gymnastics, and I’m sure it was all I talked about. Honestly, I probably dreamed about gymnastics most nights. I spent more time with my teammates and coaches, than my brothers and parents. It was everything to me, and it was suddenly snatched right out of my hands. Despite being all I knew for 10 years, competitive gymnastics vanished from my schedule. My afternoon practices were replaced with doctor’s appointments and physical therapy. Weekend travel to big meets turned into trips to get acupuncture treatments. The thing I loved most had literally broken me, and I didn’t know what to do.
Years went by as my pain increased, my confidence decreased, and I fell into a dark place.
It seemed like no one would ever be able to fix my problem. I was told I was too young to have such a major surgery. This made me become frustrated and put me in so much pain, but the only thing I could do was wait. I waited and waited. Finally, last Christmas, I had spinal fusion surgery. Since then, things have been difficult, as you can imagine, but I’m now able to look forward to healing. Throughout this process, everyone I know has been fighting for me, but I realized nothing will change until I start fighting for myself.
My journey to recovery taught me to see obstacles differently.
Hardships aren’t designed to hold you back, but to test your strength and will to move forward. It’s easy to be discouraged by your difficulties, but you have to make the decision to fight. I am proud of what I went through, and how persistent I have become. I know that even what I love most can hurt me, but if I am tough and resilient, I can make it through.