During my horseback riding days, I found that the easiest way for me to excel, was to focus on what I was good at before pushing myself to pursue a new activity in horseback riding. For an example, I was good at steering a horse by myself through an obstacle course, but the instructor would immediately step in after I completed the course and take control again. I practiced this routine a few times, until my instructor and I were comfortable enough for me to take full control of the horse without her. I remember feeling that sense of freedom when I finally had the opportunity to take hold of the reins, and control the horse on my own. Yet I had to master what I was good at before doing so.
I wish that I had remembered that experience during my freshman year of high school. I am sure anyone reading this recalls their adolescent years, or might have a teenager of their own. There is this constant challenge to fit in, and it seems like the world will crash if you fail to conform to this expectation. For me, it was the pressure to become an athlete. Although I try not let my learning difference impact what I want to do, my difficulties with hand-eye coordination and spatial skills are very significant. Sports require copious amounts of hand-eye coordination, concentration on spatial direction and quick thinking. None of these requirements are my strengths, and I knew that when I signed up for track. Yet my desire to fit in was more influential than my common sense, because the message that I got in high school was that if I was not a participant in sports, I did not belong. Also, I come from a family who have either been athletes or have been involved in athletics, therefore I internalized that circumstance and it jacked up the pressure in me. So, between yearning for acceptance, friends and commonality, I focused on track.
Overall, I would not say that track was a terrible experience, yet I still did not feel accepted, nor was I fulfilled or motivated. I realize now that focusing on my writing would have benefited me. Writing was my strength in high school, and I found that it helped me through tumultuous times. Although I cannot turn back time and join a high school activity that involves writing, I can only focus on the present. I happen to be part of a wonderful writing group now, who relate to that the riding instructor who I mentioned. They will let me ride that obstacle course of writing by myself, sometimes I step off that obstacle course without help, other times they will grab hold of the reins, give me a correction and then release me to do the rest of the work myself. I am in the process of writing a creative piece now and I am on the pursuit to publish it. Yet I know that there still aspects of writing that I need to master before doing so, yet writing is what I am good at, it is fulfilling and motivates me to accomplish those goals.
Learning to focus on what I am good at, has been a tremendous blessing in my life, because now I know how to move forward in the world. Also I hope that anyone reading this does not have the impression that I am anti-sports, that is not the case at all and I am proud of anyone who finds motivation and fulfillment in sports. Overall you may not know your strength right away, you might have to try new things to find it, but you HAVE a strength, perhaps more. The reality is that the expectation to fit in is still present everywhere, but you have the choice to conform to that pressure, or pursue what actor Jim Caviezel said in one of his speeches, “you were not born to fit in, you were born to stand out.” What will you choose? Thank you very much for your time, and as always may you find blessings in all that you do!