How would you feel if you could never do what you loved ever again? What would you do if you were told you only had a small window of time to do what you wanted? When I was told I would have to stop participating in wrestling and gymnastics before I even hit 20 years of age, I was left with a choice – either continue sports and lose function of my foot, or stop and regret it for the rest of my life.
It began in 7th grade with what I thought was just another simple sprain at wrestling practice. With only a slight pain every now and then, I didn’t think much of it, but with every step the already jagged bones were rubbing and beginning to deteriorate. The pain was slowly becoming more frequent and more severe. Then while at practice earlier this year, with what I thought was another sprain, I pushed my foot so far that the pain became unbearable and I finally went to the doctor. That’s when I was told I had arthritis, a disease that I shouldn’t even begin to see for another 30 years. I was told that within the next five years I would have to undergo surgery, leaving my foot in a condition where I would have trouble doing simple tasks like walking. I saw 3 specialists and they all told me the same thing, there was nothing to be done about my foot and I should just stop here.
I was left speechless. I was left with a choice nobody would want to be in, and to have to make the decision at 16 years old was overwhelming. I spent sleepless night after night trying to figure out what I would do. Should I continue wrestling for a taste of the spotlight or quit and watch my opportunity pass me by? I spoke with my family and friends and they said I should follow my heart, but I didn’t know where my heart was.
The situation left me in a position of great ambivalence as what I decided would either lead to the satisfaction of being successful with what I was given, or the despair of not only losing the ability to play sports, but also the ability to do simple everyday things like walking just because I wanted a taste of the spotlight. So should I take the risk or play it safe? That’s when my coach and my friend opened my eyes to the big picture and let me see the situation from a new perspective. They allowed me to see that the risk was not a problem, but it was what made this situation part of life. Quitting would not only diminish the chance of failure, but it would also take the chance of success with it.
My coach and my friend taught me a lesson that will follow me for the rest of my life. Everything in life involves risk and some level of danger, and that’s why I decided to share my story. This story is not to instill a sense of pity and it’s not just to share what has happened. This is for me to share what I have learned from my experience in hopes that others may learn from my experience as well. Just as I have that just because there is risk or danger, it does not mark the end and it does not mean failure will be imminent. You may fail or you may not, the mystery will always remain. As my friend said, “It’s not about how hard you fall, it’s about how hard you fight to get back up.” You take what you are given and you find a way. If you can’t find a way then make one. Life is about taking risks and doing what you can with what you’re given. So just because the situation seems dry, it does not mean you should give up, take a chance and risk it. After all, it’s better to live a life of “oh wells”, than to live one of “what ifs”.