Spread My Wings This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 20, 2013
I was recently asked what inspires me most. That was easy to answer: I live and breathe track and field. It is the only sport that has ­allowed me to spread my wings and truly fly. I have struggled a lot in my life after being diagnosed with a learning disability at the age of three. I was also born four months prematurely, weighing less than four pounds. Even at 17, I’m still working to catch up. Mentally I’m on the level of a 12-year-old. I had to repeat the third and fifth grade, which caused me a lot of stress and embarrassment.

People say that kids can be cruel, but adults have no idea. I was teased so much that I would often hide in the bathroom instead of going to class. My parents always gave me ­lots of love and support, but I still felt worthless most of the time. I’m also quite shy, so making and keeping friends has always been a challenge.

Then one day when I was 12, my life changed forever. My parents decided my younger brother and I should try track. From that moment on my life was different. I was a natural mid-distance runner. When I was on the track, the other kids just saw me and my speed. No one saw my learning disability. For the first time in my life I felt normal.

When I entered high school, I joined the track team and the coach quickly saw my talent. I was selected to run on the A team for cross-county and the A team for indoor and outdoor track. I’m on the varsity team for the 4 x 400-meter and ­
4 x 800-meter relays, and colleges are even interested in me!

My cross-county team won the 2011 County and Regional Championship, and I was selected as the MVP. When I accepted my award, my mom cried because she was so proud of me, and for once, I was proud of myself.

Even though I’m a special-education student, I now know that my learning disability does not define me. I’m an honor student and a MVP track runner, and when I look in the mirror I like what I see. I can hold my head up high because track has allowed me to spread my wings and truly fly!

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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