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Life is unique. Every person is born onto this earth for a reason; they are here to tell a story, fulfill a goal, or maybe even make a difference. God works through every single person, yet sometimes we have no idea what His plan is for us. This is my problem, I have no idea what is in store for me. I have a story to tell… I think. In reality, the details are still unclear and always seem to be changing; but slowly the puzzle pieces are coming together. I hate change and ever since I was a little kid, it kept crawling its way back to me, no matter how hard I tried to keep things the way they were.
It all started when I was ten and things began to change. Before this, I felt like I had my life pretty figured out: I wanted to be a swimmer. This wasn’t some crazy dream that some awestruck child had, wishing to be something extraordinary that they honestly couldn’t achieve; I was good. It was at age five when I first started swimming. I remember jumping into the water at seven o’clock in the morning with the coach yelling “warm up! Do some warm up laps!” I was gliding through the water, gracefully, and I remember thinking nothing can beat this feeling. I was on a mediocre team and I thought we were the best. At practice we all seemed so fast, like no one could ever possibly beat us. Then, we finally started to go to meets and race against teams. That’s when I realized, we really weren’t that good. Our team got beat every meet, but no one seemed to care, they were just happy to be in the water swimming. This is crazy. How can you be so happy losing all the time? I was competitive and I wanted to win. There were times where I came in second place and I was so unhappy that I wouldn’t speak to anyone. Guess you could say I was stubborn. Anyways I wanted to be victorious, so I was in search for victory.
Then I found it. I had found a team that had many good, talented swimmers. In a way I was intimidated, or scared that I wasn’t going to be good enough. Although, who cares if they were better than me, it’s all about just loving to swim, right? I had to force myself to think like this.
The Bronze Team with Coach Debra is where I started. This team consisted mostly of young people, generally around age seven, just like me at the time. These kids were fast, but I kept up with them. It was hard, but I did it; practice was all that I needed. I remember one practice Coach Debra had us swim a freestyle relay, mainly to test how well we worked together as a team. So, we split the team into two even groups. The first person from each side dove into the pool, swimming freestyle as fast as they could to the other side and back. All I could think about was, “of course, with my luck I was out in the back of the line to swim last.” If my team wanted to win, I would have to swim faster than a fish. Both of the teams swam neck and neck, no one had an advantage. It was almost my turn to go, and conveniently I was racing against Paul, the fasted guy on the Bronze Team. Splash! Once my team mate’s hand touched the wall below me, I was gone. I remember diving into the water so fast. Everyone was shocked that I had that kind of adrenaline. Every once in a while I would check the side of me Paul was on, just to make sure I hadn’t fallen behind. I didn’t see him, so he obviously was ahead of me. I tried to swim faster, I didn’t want to lose. Gliding the last few feet of the pool, my hand touched the wall. All of my team mates started to cheer while I just floated in the water, confused. I looked to my left where Paul would have finished and that’s when I saw him touch the wall. My team won and even better, I had beaten him. Not only did I have confidence in my swimming, I knew for a fact I was good enough to race on this team.
I had gone from an amateur to being victorious. I guess you could say I had changed teams for the better. I didn’t enjoy practices very much though. They were always at night, when it was cold. Cold weather with a cold pool doesn’t make me too happy. However, once those weekend meets came around, all those hard practices became worth it. I loved meets, especially that feeling when I leaned over and touched my hands on the edge of the starting block, waiting for the gun to shoot, signaling the beginning of an intense race. Butterflies would swarm all around in my stomach, but they seemed to fly away once my body hit the water. All of the movements of each stroke came naturally, whether in was freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, or breaststroke. I liked them all. Butterfly was my favorite though. It’s kind of funny since not a lot of people like this one. They say it’s really hard and tiring. I, on the other hand, found it fun and simple. Each motion felt natural and right. I loved it, but I never thought something I loved this much would hurt me.
Now I am ten, and things were about to change. I was standing in front of the starting block shaking out my jitters and all of the doubts in my mind. Next step was to climb onto the block, lean over, and wait for that gun to shoot. I dove into the water and started to swim the 100 meter, or four laps of butterfly. If I remember correctly, I was in first place, maybe second I don’t know, but I was doing pretty well. For some reason I would tend to waste all my energy on the first couple laps and struggle on the last. I refused to slow down. I threw my arms down on the water harder and harder every time my arms would rotate. Once the forth lap came around, I was pushing myself, a lot harder than I should have been. Half way down the last lap, it happened; I heard a pop. My neck and shoulder had this excruciating pain. It felt like someone just kept stabbing the area every time I moved it, but I had to keep going. There was a definite change in my speed, but there was no way I was just going to stop and give up on the race. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I touched the wall finishing the race. Dizziness hit me and I couldn’t get out of the pool; I even think I started to sink down into the water until I felt a lot of hands grab be and pull me out. My mom and friends were starring at me and all talking to me at once as I just sat there looking up with no idea about what was going on. All I really knew was something was wrong with my neck and shoulder, and I was a large amount of pain.
The next step is to go to the doctors. I remember sitting in the waiting room holding my arm up because if I moved it, I may have screamed. When I saw the doctor, he made me go through the usual routine for this kind of injury you could say: he tried to move it around and touch it (I definitely wanted to hurt him) and got x-rays which brought the bad news. I pulled my Sternocleidomastoid (Clavicular Head) Muscle; or in other words a muscle in my lower neck/upper shoulder. I was only ten at the time and the doctor suggested that I get surgery so I could heal and maybe continue to swim. My mom on the other hand thought I was way too young to get surgery; I had no choice but to give up what I love to do. Swimming was my whole life, so what do I do now? Look for a change I guess.
No more swimming competitively. What on earth do I do with my life? I can’t sit at home like a bump on a log, but I had to, at least until I could heal and begin to look for something new. Who knows what this something would be, but I had a feeling something was just around the corner. I always did have a love for jumping on trampolines. Flying through the air, doing flips, touching the sky, everything about this bouncing mechanism brought me joy. Had I found my something new? Flipping? I guess maybe later I would find out, but my searched was put to a major halt on that one Saturday.
It was the middle of the school year on a weekend, and I went to visit my good friend Anslye. She was a sweet girl, for the most part. Her house was a beautiful one story with a gigantic backyard. There was a pool, complete with a water slide and Jacuzzi, a tennis court, jungle gym, and of course, a bouncy trampoline. Oh I loved that thing and for some reason hers seemed extra springy which made going to her house ten times better. I specifically remember her swinging on a swing that was part of the jungle gym, adjacent to the shortest side of her rectangular trampoline. I of course was jumping my life away; up and down and up down, barely stopping to catch my breath. Every bounce seemed higher than last and every once in a while I would throw and occasional flip. I had gotten so high into the air and I started to rotate my hips over my head; these motions seem so natural, I felt like some light headed, easy going child, not caring what was happening all around me. Oh was that a bad idea. I needed to be paying attention because then suddenly, it happened. Splat, I went too far. Next thing I know my backside is flat on the ground with the post of the jungle gym two inches away from the right side of my skull. Looking to my right, I sighed in relief thinking hitting my head on that could have been tragic. But wait, now the real pain began to rapidly shoot up and down my spine like Roadrunner running away from Wile E. Coyote. A hammer was coming full force at the back of my head and hitting me over and over again; okay well not literally, but it sure did feel that way.
I was ten, almost eleven, and I had seriously injured myself again. What’s wrong with me? The only solution I can think of is that I am prone to injury. Anyways, after this trampoline innocent, I went to the doctors. I felt uncanny when all they did was diagnose me with a concussion. What about this throbbing, shooting pain is my lower back? Just forget about it?! Oh okay that’s highly unlikely. To fight the pain I turned to Advil; it seemed to ease the pain a little, but then approximately four hours later the pain would come back. I seriously couldn’t catch a break. I was always feeling pain. There was one time when my family and I went to Elephant Bar to have a nice family lunch, except there was nothing nice about it for me. Once as I sat down, my back would begin to scream with pain, so I stood up. After a while I would sit down again only to experience the same exact thing. I ate my lunch standing up which is ridiculous, this agony had to end.
I’m thirteen and I had gone about three years dealing with pain and taking Advil to help with it. When I visited the doctor, he threw some news my way that answered all the questions I had about my back. “You have an L5 fracture” he confidently told me and my mom. Well that explains it! For three years I had been walking around with a little crack in the lower part of my spine. Because of this injury, I had to drastically change my life style. For the pat three years I had to take things slow, watch out for cold weather, and take Advil as needed because everything I did seemed to hurt me. At least now I knew what the problem was.
I had to adapt too many changes in a short period of time. Having to quit swim and having a back injury really slowed me down, but then I started to attend a new school. I made many friends really fast, but I also found out that I loved to perform. I was always in the Christmas Programs and all of the Spring Programs dancing and acting. For a while I though maybe this is something that I could pursue. For a short time I did have my heart set on this, which is until they turned our dance team into a cheer team. I was very small in middle school, so the coach decided to make me a flyer. Here we go again with being in the air; I love it. For the rest of middle school I stuck with doing cheer. Our team wasn’t very good, but I got experience in since I was considering pursuing this in High School.
Middle School ended and it was time to move onto high school. I got accepted into the school that I had been dreaming of going to ever since 6th grade. I knew that I had to get involved in something, whether it was a sport, club, or anything to consume my time. I choose cheer. Every Tuesday night I would go to Cheer with a Twist where they practiced and got prepared for tryouts. Within the third week of going, the Varsity Cheer coach, came up to me and asked if I could stay an extra half an hour so I could stunt with the team. I took apart in the opportunity and was automatically thrown onto Varsity. They needed a flyer immediately and I was what they were looking for. I stuck with this sport for all four years of high school, and I cherished all the friends that I made and all the great experiences I encountered. However, sooner or later a chapter in your life has to end, and my chapter had ended.
Again, its time for change; college is right around the corner. I used to me a swimmer, a lover of heights, a cheerleader, and now a college kid. Life is bound to be different, but I know that I’m prepared. Since I have experienced change all my life, I think I have mastered the concept. No matter what I thrown my way, I will be prepared. Slowly but surely, my life story is being written.