Although I have never been someone who loves sports or competition very much, this year my parents encouraged me to try a sport, so I picked cross country. Art and music have always interested me more than sports, even though I do enjoy hiking, bike riding, and swimming with my friends and family. Sometimes I fear getting beat by someone and the resulting feelings of rejection and embarrassment. When that does happen though, I shrug my shoulders and shake it off. I try to have good sportsmanship and be mature; I rarely get jealous when it comes to competition.
We had practice three times a week after school, and I was never really excited to go. It wasn’t very fun for me. It felt like I was wasting my time, and I was just thinking about all of the other things I could be doing. My first meet arrived, and I could feel my nerves and anxiety building; I felt stupid and unprepared. Everyone was trying to talk me through it before I started, but I couldn’t tell if it was even helping. Our warm‐up stretches did not help me, and I could not seem to relax. I took a few deep breaths, and we were off. I tried to pace myself: one two, one two, one two, right left, right left. With every step, I could feel my breath getting heavier. I could hear my teammates and my coaches cheering for me from the sidelines. The thoughts in my head were telling me that I could do it, that I am strong and thoughtful. I wanted to be proud of myself. I believe these things helped me to keep going and finish strong.
Community plays a big role in competition and in this story for me. The people around me really helped coach me as I ran, and I realized that being encouraged, hearing them yell my name, made me want to win. Others around me encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I love the feeling of being supported by others, and it reminds me to return the favor and do the same for them.