This I Believe

Katja - Worcester, Massachusetts
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: setbacks

I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe that it is very important to learn from experiences, and that by considering all aspects of what may seem negative, important lessons can be found.

Shifting all my weight to my left foot, I waited for the two girls supporting me to evenly balance my body. Once they were steady I was gradually raised higher. Standing thirteen feet tall, supported solely by my left leg and the two girls below me, I began to bend my right leg behind me. Grabbing on to my heel with both of my hands, I pulled my leg from behind me up over my head. I slightly exhaled my body still entirely flexed; my scorpion stunt had been completed. The girl supporting me to the left side of my body faltered, and I plummeted downward to the thin, unforgiving, blue mats. I opened my eyes, the smell of sweat and gym floor grit filled my nose as I breathed deeply, causing a sharp pain in my right shoulder. I stood up and attempted to regain control of my body.

This accident occurred on September 28th of my sophomore year, the healing process has been over three years, and I have still not completely recovered.

The specialists told me that my injury was the equivalent of being hit by a car. And if my head had been tilted a degree more to either side I would have had a spinal cord injury or died. This came as a disturbing shock to me, but at the same time I forced myself to go beyond feeling bitter and to find beauty. The pain I experienced was so immense I could not sit or lay without being in agony, but I was alive. It was determined after countless MRIs and CT scans that I had severely damaged the nerves in my brachial plexus and carpel tunnel.

Due to doctors appointments and pain, I missed many weeks of school. When I was physically present it was difficult to be mentally aware, the prescribed medications I took had negative repercussions. My teachers accommodated me, but unable to write or type, completing assignments was difficult. Walking through the hallways, in pain, I felt ostracized. My existence was not acknowledged, aside from vicious rumors whispered by my peers. I was devastated to overhear implications that I was faking my injury.

This injury was a set back, keeping me from excelling in my school work and from participating in physical and social activity. It was at my lowest, when I had been stripped of the attributes I had valued most about myself, that I was able to identify Leonard Cohen’s words, “O God, make me poor enough to love your diamond in the rough.” I believe that instead of becoming weaker from my injury I became much stronger; not physically but mentally. I believe learning acceptance and patience helped me to find self-worth from within.