Throughout my life I have encountered many events that have impacted who I am today. From something as minute as losing my childhood ‘blankey’ to a devastating loss of a loved one; losses have taught me more about life than times I had gained. For this, I believe that I have learned more from loosing than from winning.
When I was a young child, I carried around a light pink, grungy blankey with me. It had to be with me when I was sleeping, at practice, and at friend’s house. It gave me a sense of security. I can remember the times that I had lost it in various places. I left it at restaurants, movie theaters, and at grocery stores. My parents would only go back for it because I would not stop begging for it if they didn’t. On my ninth birthday, my parents told me that if I threw away my blankey then they would get me a horse, which I had always wanted. Surprisingly, I declined the offer. At that time I was not ready to give blankey up. That only lasted maybe a month before continued riding lessons persuaded my decision to make a huge sacrifice, the loss of my blankey.
I remember riding home in the car with my mom explaining to her that I really wanted to get rid of blankey because I wanted a horse. She had me go get ‘blankey’ and take it to the trash. The tears followed. I was devastated. That night I snuck out of my room and retrieved blankey. I knew my parents would not be very happy with me, but I insisted a need for my blankey. My mom was disappointed when she found out that I had changed my mind and needless to say, I didn’t get a horse. Again, I had a change in heart. I told her I was going to take blankey to the trash out by the road and that she would never see it again. She watched me as I walked very slowly toward our huge, green, waste management barrel and barely opened it enough to slip blankey in. I remember walking back on our long stone driveway thinking that I would never be able to go on without blankey. After a few restless nights, I began to sleep better. I realized although losing my blanket was a traumatic experience for me, I grew up that day and learned to be a bit more independent, and on top of that, I had my own horse!
When I got older, riding horses wasn’t my only form of sport. Coming from an athletic family where my grandfather played in the NBA and MLB and my father in the NFL I was a very active kid. I have learned from them through sports. They are both very humble people that don’t like to talk about their careers because that was all in the past. My dad never once pressured any of his five children to become star athletes, all he wanted was us to do was enjoy the sport and learn from it. He wanted us to work hard and try to improve every time we stepped onto the court or field. He said that once we started something, we had to finish; “there were no quitters in the Ehlers family.” Also, after tough games -no matter win or loss- he was always there for us. He would tell me what I was doing wrong and how to improve.
I can remember being co-captain my senior year with my twin sister after a hard fought sectional volleyball match. We had won the first two sets and all we needed was one more set to win the match. We ended up losing to our rival, Mishawaka, in the fifth set. Of course, at the time it was disappointing, but it taught my sister and I a lot about the game. By being a team player, there is nobody to blame for mistakes- we all have bad games. Although we lost the match, it taught me that you can only control how hard you work at practice and lead by example. My sister moved on to play college volleyball at Purdue and she often refers to games that we have played together, like the sectional game where our team did not come out with a win. After she has not performed well, she calls, and my advice is always for her to keep her head up and wait for Monday at practice to prove herself again. Although winning is more enjoyable, I truly believe that losing helps define who and where you are, and allows you to look forward to the future and create more goals to strive towards.
My Oma was always one that reached for her goals. Her main goal was to provide for her family. She was a military wife that had to raise four kids on her own. She was very religious and always seemed to put her problems aside whenever others needed her. Towards the end of her wonderful life she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She began to get frustrated because forgot what she had done throughout the day. After a while she began to forget about work and friends, and I knew there was going to come a day when she would forget who I was. I always ended my conversation with her saying “I love you” because I knew it was possible that was the last time she would be able to say it back to me. That day did come when I went to visit her in the hospital. It was hard to talk to her because it was so frustrating knowing that she had such a large impact in my life and I was about to lose her. She would introduce herself to my family as if she had no idea who we were. After losing her, I realized how much she taught me before and during her disease. She was a strong independent woman that raised four wonderful children. My Oma has become one of my role models in my life. She worked hard when it came to Avon and her children, and she always had a big smile on her face.
Throughout my life I have realized that losing has taught me more than winning. By losing my blankey I got a horse. By losing a sectional volleyball match I learned to work harder to improve every day. By losing my Oma I have learned to live my life in a different way. Even through suffering, I should have a friendly smile on my face.