Coming Back from a Traumatic Event

November 12, 2018
By serenityroux BRONZE, Astoria, New York
serenityroux BRONZE, Astoria, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

My body aches, sweat drips down my brow, my legs feel as though they are going to give out at any moment, yet my instructor continues to bark, “Heels down! Toes up! Back arched! You have to be in control!”. I have been cantering around this arena for two hours, dirt flying behind Wilson, the two year old horse I am helping to train. I am thirteen. I have been competitively horseback riding for seven years now, but never had I been in a situation like this. Flying through the air, off the back of an animal I trusted for years, into blackness.

The day had started out normal. It was five in the morning and I was getting ready to head to the barn for my Saturday practice. “It is going to be a cold one today!”, my dad bellowed through the house. I pulled on an extra pair of breeches and long socks, padding that would unintentionally come in handy later. Once we got to the barn, I finished my chores and grabbed Wilson out of his stall. He was the colt of Avanti, our show horse who had won national titles. I was there for his birth and had been helping my stepmom train him to be ridden under saddle, a goal we accomplished the year before. I was confident that the ride that day would be smooth, as it had been every other weekend.

Two hours in and I was exhausted beyond belief, ready to call it quits. My stepmom, who was also my instructor, urged me to pick up a canter as Wilson and I traveled around the arena corner. No one expected the wind to vigorously shake the barn doors at the exact same time we were speeding past them. Wilson spooked, turning and bolting towards the center of the arena, while my momentum continued to take me the opposite direction. I flew out of the saddle, delving into darkness as I crashed to the ground. The world came back into focus a few moments later, and I could feel the dust settling around me. My body would not move and I felt a searing pain travel through my torso. My lungs refused to let me breathe, and the only thought going through my brain was, “oh my god I just broke my ribs”. I could finally get up five painful minutes later and made my way to the break room, hoping beyond belief that I would not have to get on a horse for a long while. Seven years of riding and I had not yet been through a situation such as that, lulling me into a false sense of security which only made the fall scarier. My dad sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulders, telling me that I needed to get back on.  I refused at first, crying and shaking because I thought the same thing would happen again. He gave me a speech, saying that if I did not get back on then the fear would stay with me and I would never be able to accomplish my dreams of riding at an Olympic level. I wiped my tears away, got back in the saddle, and my thoughts were proven to be a product of my naive hysteria. Wilson had calmed down, and so had I. This experience taught me to not let fear control my life, a lesson I have carried with me ever since.

Never give up just because you are scared, use that as motivation to keep going. If something is daunting enough to make you want to quit, dive into it head on. I did not give up on my horseback riding dreams, ones that I have had ever since I was three, just because I was frightened. The danger of getting hurt was always there, despite previously overlooking that fact, and would continue to be there with nothing I could do about it. This is what I have learned and applied to my life in the years since the incident. When moving to New York City from the suburbs of Northwest Indiana overwhelmed me, I did not let that ruin my experiences here. I took the anxiety and turned it into curiosity, using it to explore the city and meet as many people as I could. The best way to override fear is to replace it with information.

How can a city be intimidating when you have learned the people’s life stories and intimately explored the streets? How could I let the fear of getting hurt while horseback riding scare me to the point where I gave up my lifelong dream? The answer is that I could not. I refused to let anxiety run my life. Everyone fails at some point, but it is how you rebound from it that shapes you. If I chose to let it encompass my life, then I would never improve. It is important to learn from failure, in order to fully succeed. Instead of letting a bad experience shape my behavior negatively and erase my dreams, I turned it into a situation I could learn and improve from. I have implemented the lessons I attained that morning in my daily life. It was the catalyst I needed to get out and explore the beautiful, diverse world around me. Getting over the fear I had of life going wrong helped me stand up to the people who were only adding fuel to that fire. Ultimately, however, it made me a more confident person who greets failure as something to learn from, as we all should.


The author's comments:

I wrote this for the college common app essay option #2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Hopfully it can help others. 


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