August was finally here, the start of 4th grade. Excited because I was closer to being a big-shot middle schooler. With new clothes and super-fast shoes, I was ready to conquer this new year. As the day began it was scorching, it was like the sun was falling out of the sky. I get to class and meet my new teacher, Mrs. Student. Mrs. Student was very energetic and was always very eager to teach. She walked in that day and told us that we will be learning about different careers and what we had an interest in. She asked everybody what they wanted to be when they grew up. I started to think about what I wanted to be and what job looked the coolest but remembered that I should always follow my dreams.
As we went around the class sharing kid by a kid what they wanted to be and why. Finally, it was my turn. Right away at the speed of light, I said “I want to be a firefighter,” and she asked me why I want to be a firefighter, it’s been my dream for some time. Firefighters look awesome, they help people and give back to the community, and get to work outdoors. Mrs. Student agreed that my career was a great choice but the other kids didn’t think I could do it. They said I was too small or I was not strong enough. The other kids were trying to dictate my life. I was always told that the sky was the limit but at that moment I felt small but also felt big. I knew that I would have to work hard and that there will always be others out there that will try to put MY life into their hands.
When you start to believe other people’s opinions are more important than yours, you start to think you are not good enough. You live in their opinions and not yours. And yet, you’re the one who will be left with regret on your deathbed for not having lived a life truly authentic to who you are. They (and their opinions of you) will be long gone. And you’ll wonder why you gave them so much power over you. You’ll have lived a life that’s NOT what you wanted or needed or truly desired. You’ll only offer people a shell of what you think they’ll like. And you’ll cheat yourself out of real intimacy and success because of it. You will NEVER have what you truly want in life unless you learn to shut out other people’s opinions. We see and understand the society around us through our perception, however, our perception is deeply affected by the people around us. What I mean by this is; that if everything you do is measured against the opinion of everyone else, What happens to the opinion of yourself.
Throughout the next few years, I knew I had to work hard and build a stronger me. I enrolled in football at a young age and stuck with it ever since. Football made me feel invincible. It made me feel like I was in control and could do whatever it takes to get the win. It made me feel good inside and out. Over the years I lost weight and started to build muscle and even gained some height. I was no longer looked at as the chubby kid who was told that he would never have what it takes to be a firefighter.
Once I started high school, it was for a fresh start. My freshmen year was great. We had a good year in football, 8-2 and I even made varsity and lettered in football as a freshman. This is everything I wanted. My freshman year ended well, I finished with a 3.0 GPA and made lots of friends but unfortunately, the next year was a little harder for me. See sophomore year started well. I started varsity for football, got good grades, and lots of attention but then I got hit in the knee at practice. The coaches and doctors thought it was a bad knee sprain and a thigh contusion but once I got hurt I didn’t go to school. The injury was painful and I fell behind in school. It took some time to catch back up but was able to with help.
Next was junior year and this was the hardest year for me by far. Like last year it started great but I got hurt in the first game of the football season against Brighton High School. I got hit in the same knee as last year and knew something was wrong. The next day my knee swelled up and was bruised pretty well so I had to go to the ER. The doctor told me that I tore my meniscus and maybe my ACL. I was still able to bend my knee, so I had to schedule an MRI. Come to find out that the hit to the knee from my sophomore year tore my ACL and I was walking and playing on a torn ACL for a year. The extent of my injury was a shock to the doctors. They were amazed that I was able to deal with a torn ACL for so long.
After the MRI results, I found out I had to get reconstructive surgery and they put 2 screws in my knee and stitched up my meniscus. The pain that I endured was like nothing before. I was helpless. I was weak. I was depressed. I missed about six weeks of school and had a hard time at home. Everything I wanted; football, grades, and friends were all gone. I dedicated everything to being strong mentally and physically but now I could not even take a shower without help. Every dream I had went out the window.
I went back to school and had to switch up some of my classes because it was hard to get caught up. I lost friends because I could no longer play football and lost dignity because I no longer had self-respect. I struggled for some time. Classes and homework were never-ending but my teachers really helped me out but I still felt like this was the end. I reread the qualification to become a firefighter and realized that I lacked in areas now. My knee injury would hold me back from my dreams. Everything I worked hard for has come to a finish.
I was at the lowest that I had ever been. I felt like the little chubby kid in class again. I was allowing myself to think that I was not good enough. At that moment I knew I needed self-help. I needed to rebuild myself. I listened to motivational music and speeches to help me regain my gains. Seeing this process was not easy. It was hard to get full motion and strength in my leg. It took a lot of physical therapy and a different mindset. I had to remember how far I have come and my willingness to fight. Once I learned my full potential, I was once again invincible. Life is good and anything is possible as long as you work hard. Everything happens for a reason and life is full of challenges. Tearing my ACL and Meniscus was a huge obstacle in my life but I know I can accomplish anything. I am thankful for a great support team and know my circumstances are different than others but “You can do anything you set your mind to when you have a vision, determination, and an endless supply of expendable labor.” That’s why I want to be a firefighter again. YOU CAN!