You Can't Always Succeed

April 9, 2012
Walt Disney, a cartoonist and expert dreamer, created the characters so beloved by children. Cinderella, with her lost slipper, is finally rescued by her Prince Charming. The ocean comes to life as Ariel gives up her beautiful voice in order to find her true love. Belle learns to look past what is visible to the eye to see what is in the Beast's heart. No matter what the story, the princess, mermaids, and gentle maidens always live happily ever after. Life is different though. Sometimes, the evil witch wins and Prince Charming finds another girl; not all dreams come true. This is where my fairytale begins.

Once upon a time, I was a runner. "Hills are our friends, hills are our friends." I repeated the phrase in my mind as I powered up the final incline. "400 meters to go." The finish line loomed in front of me, a tantalizing white banner egging me towards the finish. One more step, and I crossed the line. The watch read 26:19, yet another failure. Too exhausted to be disgruntled, I leaned on a post, my body shaking from the stress. A few minutes passed before my breathing returned to normal and my thoughts begin to clear. Once again, I saw the 26:19, and a mixture of sorrow, shame, and exasperation washed over me. Six months of early morning runs and grueling practices, and my times had gotten worse. Failure permeated every part of my body.

I joined the track team an insecure freshman, having never run more than a mile in my life. Within three weeks, I was running three on an easy day. My first race, the 800 meters, left me retching on the field; for 2 minutes and 57 seconds, my body rebelled against my mind, every sinew bursting with agony. I had never been so sore yet proud in my life. As the season progressed, so did my times. I dropped over a minute from my mile, making my personal record a 6:33. Coach had big plans for me, and for once, I began to see myself as more than academic. I had become a runner.

My obsession for running grew as summer approached. Determined to be number one on the girls varsity team, every morning was spent training. By 7 a.m., my training shoes were tied and I hit the road. I totaled almost 200 miles during June and July, never skipping a day. Number one loomed in front of me, taunting me to train harder.

The first day of cross country practice, I lead the pack, running the longest. By the next week, I struggled to keep up, out of breath while the other girls chatted away. During workouts, my body would shut down and refuse to move any farther; I always finished last. Meets where I was forced to drop out of races because of inexplicable pain left me in tears, sobs wracking my body as I wondered what I was doing wrong. Vitamins, a strict diet, and guzzling water did nothing to help. No matter how intense the struggle, I could never succeed.

Finally, in the middle of the season, illness forced me to stop running. Exercise caused my head to spin, and walking too fast would leave me out of breath. Pounding headaches interrupted my homework, while constant nausea helped me to lose weight. Dozens of tests, and no doctor knew what was causing my symptoms. Sitting on the sidelines, I was only a bystander as team memories were made. My dream of being an elite runner had been crushed.

A few weeks ago, I attended the end of the season banquet. My coach, always thoughtful, awarded me with a varsity letter, a gift I do not deserve. Better, faster, prettier girls have replaced me; years from now, no school records will mark that I existed. According to Mr. Walt Disney, "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." I believe otherwise. God installs in many people a passion and dream they can never fulfill; at times, our aspirations are only to be wished for, not acquired. Today, I still sit on the sidelines, lamenting a lost part of me. Part of my story is still unwritten. I may never have a happily ever after, but that does not upset me. Sometimes, when one dream dies, another is born.

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