This I Believe

Tony - Silver Spring, Maryland
Entered on May 29, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Personal Essay

I believe that accomplishing life’s challenges is the best feeling someone can have. My struggle with a challenge started at birth because I was born with Spina Bifida. Growing up, I was always told the limits of my abilities by my parents, doctors and teachers. I never tried to test my abilities to see what I was capable of. But, that test soon came when I began high school.

From elementary to middle school I was always forced to be around the same students with disabilities. I was tired of being held back and contained within the same group. I needed to experience something different.

Choosing to go to Wheaton High School was a good decision because for the first time I was a single student like everyone else. I got around on my own and did everything by myself. At the time I was the only physically disabled student which I had mixed feelings about: I liked this because I was no longer confined in the same group, but, I felt that I had no place to belong and I stood out, which is not the way I wanted to be noticed. In my tenth grade year I found a solution.

In my first year of high school my brother had tried to convince me to join the wrestling team. At that time I was just getting use to high school and I did not want to overwhelm myself. When the next year came around I felt confident enough to give it a try, so I joined the team. This did many things for me: I had a place to belong at school, it was a way to put my abilities to the test and a way to prove to everyone that I was no different. Wrestling was a challenge for me because I had never been on a sports team and I was not used to the vigorous workouts during practices. My first season with the wrestling team was successful in a mental way because of the learning experience. I found out that I was more physically able than I had thought. Although I was unable to win any matches that season, but I had not expected to, which is why I decided to return the next year.

Between the first and second season I gained more confidence and felt more prepared. In my first match of the second season when the whistle blew I felt a rush of power. The only thing on my mind was getting the win by pinning my opponent to the mat instead of by points. Within the first minute of the second period I won the match by pinning my opponent. Getting this win changed the way my teammates viewed me and the way I viewed myself.

I no longer saw myself as a person with a disability and I try to make others view me the same way. Accomplishing any challenge no matter how big or small is the best feeling a person can have; this I believe.