I am having to readjust to the idea of being a freshman for the second time. People too often use the phrase “time flies,” but I can think of no more applicable phrase than that for describing what high school was for me.
The reality of the four years I passed in high school especially set in today when I sprained my ankle and sent my dad to find the crutches I used the first month of high school after an identical ankle injury.
Though I really didn’t desire to begin my freshman year of college with the nickname of cripple again, I am not allowing my injury to overcome my excitement for my future awaiting me and I am proud to say that the past four years have prepared me to handle unfavorable situations.
A setback, not a defeat
As a girl who works out and plays soccer every day, not being able to even walk is a bit of a setback. While not being able to run sometimes seems like the end of the world to me, a Hemingway quote from “The Old Man and the Sea” puts my situation in perspective: “But man is not made for defeat. Man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
It is easier to understand in the context of the book where (as the title suggests) an old man battles the sea, but more specifically a giant fish, for several days and can barely function out of hunger, pain, and despair. Though the old man was destroyed by all of his human weaknesses, his heart and passion never allowed the fish to defeat his will to persevere.
The first instance I can compare this to in my own life during high school would be my sprained ankle. I absolutely despised feeling helpless and needy, I hated not being able to run with my cross country team, and a boy in my class whispered “faker” when I walked past his desk every morning. I dreaded going to school because of these things and I petitioned God as to why he allowed this to happen to me at such a critical time in my life. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t get to run in any meets and I felt like everyone thought I was on crutches just to get attention.
Just like the old man, though, I was destroyed but I surely was not defeated. That year I ran in only three meets, but earned a varsity running spot for post-season, I met the group of friends who are still the people closest to me, and most importantly, I learned there is no situation too bad to overcome. I’m thankful to have learned this lesson at the beginning of my high school career, as it would be useful many times after.
Some peers gave up
I also saw peers who believed that when they were destroyed that they were defeated. One of these friends attempted suicide my senior year and another wasted her Division 1-worthy athletic talent and transferred schools three times before dropping out and working at McDonald’s. Because these girls thought that a few bad decisions defeated them at age 16, they gave up. Regardless of how badly you fail a test or get your heart broken, there is nothing stopping you from succeeding, except yourself. Comparing students in my graduating class to freshman year, those who succeeded were those who didn’t give a crap when life’s storms blew their lives out of control and tried hardest even when it seemed useless.
I saw students avoid classes and sports because they thought they would be too difficult. Four years later I saw the consequences of their fear, as all of them now know they were smart enough for that honors course and athletic enough for that sport. I challenge you this year to stay away from those who say you are inadequate and find those who are there to support you even when you’re destroyed.
Whether your storm is math, divorced parents, partying, or timidity, remember that you are never defeated.