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Destiny

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“The ways of destiny are often ruled to our advantage, though in opposition to our wishes.” (Quentin Durward, Sir Walter Scott)

When I was a child, life was perfect. Things came easier to me than they did to others, and growing up in a third-world country didn’t affect me. My parents could afford high-end elementary schools, where women from England taught me English, where I rose through the ranks and among the students like a natural born leader. Everything was perfect, as I considered myself to be too.
One dismal day, my parents broke the news that we would move to America. All my angry young mind could think about were the friends and comfortable life I would leave behind. But be it by destiny or by my parents’ free will, the choice was made for me, and looking back now, my mother and father sacrificed much more than I did to assure me a better education, a better upbringing, a better life.
The years passed and even in this different world I was at the top of my class. I was full of myself and I looked down on those who didn’t do as well as I did. This was how life found me when it struck a second time, and the school nurse informed me that I had severe scoliosis.
Unnoticeably, my spine had gradually deteriorated, and with it, so did my “perfection.” The doctors spoke of operations, but my parents wouldn’t hear of it. Anxiety gripped those around me and my confidence wavered: I was still the same, yet fundamentally different.
For four years and twenty-one hours a day, I wore a back brace that limited my mobility, crushed my skin, and imprisoned my body. The pain of the brace nearly drove me mad; daily it bruised me under its heavy pressure and, on occasion, completely numbed limbs to the point where simply paying attention in class was almost impossible. At night, sharp pangs like those of lying on rocks kept me awake, but my will to defeat the distortion only grew.
In public, I hid from the curious gazes of those who didn’t understand my “armor,” but soon I realized how lucky I was to have moved to America. I knew others like me in Romania who, because of other kids’ harsh bullying, gave up on their back brace and their chances of recovery.
The longer I wore the back brace, the more my priorities changed. I started to recognize that a beautiful character is paramount to outdoing others, and that everybody has gifts, whether they are visible or not. Whenever I see anyone with a handicap, I know inside there is a heart full of life, wanting and waiting to give and receive love like anybody else.
For a long time, I felt indignant toward the future that destiny doomed me to, but over time, I have realized that this adversity has made me who I am. Without this great test in my life, I wouldn’t have discovered my capacity to endure pain, to understand others beyond what’s on the surface, and to break past my limits of empathy.





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