I Believe In Myself

Dale - Westland, Michigan
Entered on September 27, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Its not that im being selfish, far from it. I just find a lot of my personal, spiritual weight and my responsibility fall on my own shoulders. I need to believe in myself to go after the goals I set forward.

Looking back now, it just doesn’t add up. I had no clue what I was getting myself into or even why. I may have been attracted to the heroism or heard people talking about how special fire fighters are. The truth is I just rushed into something as fast as I could think of it after graduation. The physical instructors will make you pay for not being prepared in the fire academy.

During the academy our work outs were excruciating. I came home barely able to move at least twice a week. All this work was fun compared to the ultimate final exam it prepared us for “The Killer.” The Killer is a practical, hands-on, obstacle course. It was the single most difficult physical task I have ever accomplished.

The stairs were the worst, carrying 50 pounds of hose over my shoulder. My muscles were burning on the final stairs of the second flight. The top was no relief. I pulled heavy weights up and over the top of the building in the sweltering heat. My knees screamed no as I grabbed the hose for the return trip downstairs. Full gear and short time. I could barely see through the fogged mask but managed to hear “You have 1 minute Mahaffey. Move!” After the proven strength the Killer teases you with impossible seeming tests of agility and soft touch with thick clumsy gloves and boots like cement galoshes. 30 seconds. I was near collapse carefully tying a square knot. Crossing the finish line I saw my time. 5:55. I’ll never forget that number. My fellow classmates rushed in to strip me of my equipment and administer water. I closed my eyes to breath, barely, a sigh of relief.

6 young adults out of 30 passed that test. I was second. I realized after the class that I had rushed myself into the academy and I didn’t really want to spend my days as a fire fighter. People say I wasted my time and money going to the class. They’re wrong. I learned more about myself in that course than in any other experience I’ve ever had. I pushed my body every inch it could possibly be pushed and I’ve never been so proud of myself for such a valiant effort. It truly made me believe in myself. My mother used to tell me I could be anything I wanted when I grew up. When I crossed that finish line I finally understood. My body and my spirit are very distant cousins but goals need devotion and solid effort to be accomplished. I won’t rush into any life changing decisions any time soon, but once I know exactly where I want to lead myself I believe I can get there.