This I Believe

Ryann - District of Columbia
Entered on January 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: purpose

I believe everything happens for a reason. I have shaped this belief over the years throughout all my experiences. I never look back on my experiences with regret. Rather, I realize that I would not be the person I am today, without my experiences.

From the moment I jumped into the freezing water on the first day of summer swim team in early June when I was six, I knew that I wanted to be a swimmer. Aware of my growing passion and skill, my mother signed me up with one of the most intense swim club programs in our area. For the following nine years of my life, swimming developed from my extracurricular activity to my number one priority in life. It became my identity.

As I began to have to take days off from school to compete around the country I became known as “the swimmer” to my family and friends. I no longer had time to go on family vacations, see my friends on the weekend, go to birthday parties, school dances, or sleepovers. With 6 a.m. practices every day for two hours, and double practices on holidays and during the summer, swimming consumed my life.

By the time I was fourteen, my speed and endurance allowed me many successes during swim meets. My coaches intensified my training, putting pressure on me to meet national level qualification times. Yet at this peak stage in my swimming career that everything changed. My body restricted my passion and my goals. I had developed a serious knee growth disorder that made it painful for me to swim. I could not practice hard and taking time off even for a few days was detrimental to my training. After seeing an orthopedic specialist, I decided that for a full recovery it was necessary that I take time off from swimming in order to heal properly. I was devastated. I knew that after taking such a long hiatus from the pool it would take me forever to get back to where I was at my peak. The six months I had to take off, however, changed my life. I realized that while swimming was all I knew, something within me decided that if my strongest passion could be taken away because of a temporary injury I needed to identify myself with things that are unconditional. It was then that I understood that I had to stop swimming for a purpose. I started to believe that this was not some unfair act of God that I could no longer do the one thing in my life at which I truly excelled. I accepted my circumstance and took advantage of everything else in my life. I grew accustomed to going throughout my days with being in a pool for three hours. I went on family vacations, I filled my time with other sports and activities and most importantly I developed amazing relationships that never would have happened if I were still swimming. I was able to spend more time with my family and friends than ever before. My reputation as “the swimmer” faded and I became myself to my friends.

Some call it fate, or even destiny, but I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. On a daily basis things may happen that seem unfair and sudden. Yet whenever I endure a difficult situation, I look for anything positive or hopeful; I believe that time will reveal its purpose in my life. When I learn to handle an experience this way it enables me to make the best of my life instead of focusing on the negative.