Manystudents in my school excel in sports such as soccer, cross-country and football.But my activity is uncommon for young men my age. It is gymnastics - a complexyet invigorating sport that, as I have learned over the years, not onlychallenges one's physical state, but also one's mind. Gymnastics has taught meself-discipline and given me confidence, more so than any other sport I everattempted. I have felt pain and pleasure, faced fear and adversity, but most ofall, learned resiliency. Each of these life lessons has helped not only myacademics, but also my character. They will help me in the workplace,too.
The sport of gymnastics is very time-consuming. I work out between 17and 20 hours a week, not to mention the two hours it takes to drive to and frommy gym every day. Some would think such a time-consuming sport would harm myschoolwork. Instead, it gives my life a sense of urgency that not only causes meto spend more time on homework, but also helps me with time management skills andaids me in the composition of quality work in a shorter span of time. Also, thehard work involved in gymnastics is reflected in my schoolwork because it puts mein a mindset to work to the best of my ability.
Gymnastics has taught methat hard work and dedication are not always greeted with immediate rewards. Lastyear was my first at a new level of gymnastics. I worked hard all season, butreceived few awards. I learned that although I didn't receive many prizes, tryingmy best was what was important. Sometimes in the workplace hard work is also notrewarded. With the proper mindset, however, knowing that the job was done wellwould be enough of a reward for me.
To be successful in school,intelligence and hard work will get one very far. To be successful in theworkplace, one must also have maturity, confidence and discipline. Few activitiesteach these better than gymnastics. To accomplish particular skills, one's mindmust be so disciplined that the individual is in perfect control of his/her body.The slightest distraction or feeling of fear will not only jeopardize the qualityof one's gymnastics, but also possibly even one's safety. An individual must haveextreme self-confidence to prevent hesitation while doing an intimidatingskill.
Gymnastics is very demanding of one's body. My hands are constantlychapped and raw from swinging on the high bar, and my legs are often cut andbruised from relentlessly pushing my body to its limit on the pommel horse. Ioften do not get enough sleep, since I don't get home from gymnastics until10:30, and still need to eat dinner. But certain occupations will demand that Ipush my body. If it is not in the best condition at a certain time, theself-discipline I have learned helps me keep my mind in as good a shape aspossible.
In gymnastics, I often cannot perform a skill either because offear or because I am just not physically able. Whatever the reason, it isextremely frustrating and discouraging. It sometimes makes me feel bad aboutmyself and where I am going in the sport. Although I may feel unhappy for awhile, I have learned to be resilient and bounce back by being energetic in myschoolwork and gymnastics, and taking pride in myself and putting myself in agood mindset. Although I will lose my ability to do gymnastics as I age, I willnever forget the life lessons this sport has taught me.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.