This I Believe

Emily - Gainesville, Georgia
Entered on December 4, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: courage
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Taking What You Can

Think of everyone you have ever met. Did you get anything out of your interaction? Well, I believe everyone you meet can offer you something, but it is up to you to decide what you take from each interaction. I am a flat-water kayaker, and I often stay and train at the Olympic Training Center. Staying there has introduced me to many people who have made a significant impact on my life.

Paralympic athletes train at the Olympic Training Center. The Olympians are remarkable, but I think that the Paralympians can teach me more as an individual. These athletes have some physical challenges, but they do not let them hinder their lives. They approach all situations with an optimistic attitude and influence others to do the same. One of the Paralympic soccer players has cerebral palsy, but he approaches that disability with comedy. He has actually been on television shows and become a well-known comedian. Some of the athletes who have lost limbs have learned to be open and accepting about their problems. They will make jokes about forgetting their leg in the cafeteria or the problem with getting blisters on their fake toes. Being around them and hearing their stories helps me to be grateful for the abilities I have and to work to be more like them. Paralympians work hard to succeed. They do not look at what could stop them; they keep pressing forward. That attitude is impressive to me.

In addition to dealing with their disabilities, the Paralympians have to deal with some people in society who belittle them because of their handicaps. They really show that you have the option to choose how you react. Despite all obstacles, they work to live normal lives. The blind athletes know their way around better than I do. The amputees have learned to walk with artificial legs. We often think that little things ruin the day, but we need to realize how insignificant many of our problems are. The day-to-day problems we have are actually trivial. Most of our problems do not result in us missing a limb or becoming physically disabled. We should take what we can from the Paralympic athletes and seek to get the most out of every day.

Staying at the Olympic Training Center has introduced me to many people who have had a large impact on my life. They have helped me to change my outlook on life. The incredible athletes have an ideal disposition and set a great example for me or anyone else to follow. I learned that I can take so much from every interaction with people. Even if the experience is negative, I can learn a better way to approach the situation. I want to internalize these athletes’ determination and drive in my quest to live life to the fullest.