September 29, 2013
Three years ago, I pushed off a dock for the first time and took my first strokes. Initially, sitting two inches off the water in a fairly narrow boat made me anxious. The movements felt unnatural, the terminology seemed as if it was a foreign language, and the boat constantly tipped from side to side. However, as I continued throughout that first season, I began to understand the various aspects of the sport, and I came to love the moments I would spend in the boat each day. Since this first season, what once was a foreign environment became my favorite place in the world.

What’s special about this environment is that every day is what you make it. Every row is a new challenge and chance for success. Some are for practice and are designed to improve, while others are races and are an opportunity to achieve goals. Regardless of the type, every day my row begins when I shove off the dock and leave the shore. I cannot change what training I have done on shore to prepare me for my row at this point, but I now immerse myself onto the open water and commit to putting forth my best effort. What I will do on the water will determine how far I will go from here.

Once I begin to row, everything in the boat is under my control. While nature may give me whitecaps or a headwind, I can lengthen my stroke, square the blade later, and push my blade through the water as fast as possible to adapt to the conditions. While the boat may become offset due to another rower leaning to one side, I have the ability to change my handle height so that the boat becomes balanced again. I then control how far my boat moves by how hard I chose to pull. Everything I do will effect how far I will go, and it is up to me to determine how far that will be.

While my destiny in this environment is based on my self motivation and effort, I still always have a support system. I have my fellow rowers, and I have my coxswain. My coxswain is my mentor and guidance. I can never see what course lies ahead, but I can rely on my coxswain to steer me a safe and efficient course, and to push me to break any mental walls I may encounter. With my teammates, each of them is putting forth their best effort for me, and it is up to me to do the same for them. While I will ultimately be the one that applies the necessary effort to succeed, having the resources to help me get there is vital to my success as well.

As I now move into the next stage in my life, it is my hope that I will come to love my future college campus as much as I came love being in my boat rowing. Every day will be a new chance for success; every class will be an opportunity to advance my knowledge; every assignment will be a chance to reinforce what I have learned. I will leave my high school years behind me. They have prepared me well, but how I will apply myself in this next stage of my life will be what defines who I become and I am ready to accept the challenge it presents. My goals will no longer be placement in a race or a personal best time, but instead a nuclear engineering degree and a good job in the future. Along the way I may face challenges and struggle at times, but I have the personal ability and determination to succeed, and I know that I will have the resources I will need of my future peers and professors to make myself successful.

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