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Beep. Beep. I opened my eyes, turned my head to the right, and saw the spiky graph on the little monitor that told me someone was alive. I looked at my body and saw the wires stuck to it, which informed me that the beeping heartbeat was mine.
I closed my eyes and recalled months of sitting silently in the therapist’s office as my parents spoke for me. I recalled the final weeks of 8th grade that I had missed and the moment my gymnastics coach told my parents that I was anorexic, and was too sick to practice. I recalled the weekly, and then semi-weekly, visits to the doctor to check my vitals, and finally the visit that resulted in me being rushed to the hospital.
I was only in the hospital for a short amount of time, but it was enough. My life had been spiraling out of control for months in my attempt to achieve perfection, and I had hit rock bottom. It was time for me to pick myself up and make the arduous climb to a healthier and more fulfilling place in life.
Recovery necessitated that I reflect on who I was and who I wanted to be. From this intense period of introspection, I gained penetrating insights into my limits, aspirations, flaws, and strengths. In light of my newfound wisdom I was able to chart a path forward, and from that point onwards, I devoted all of my efforts to improving my health, repairing my relationships, and rebuilding my inner strength.
As my health, relationships, and self-esteem began to recover, I sought additional avenues in which I could live out the passion for life I had lost for a period of time. I returned to my beloved sport of gymnastics with greater resolve than before I had fallen ill, going on to win 1st place All-Around Varsity Champion at the MVALs championship in my first year back in the sport. With each new victory in my life, my dedication to success only grew. I immersed myself in all of my commitments, always eager to learn, both inside and outside of the classroom.
I used to wonder to myself where I would be if I had never fallen ill. There was always a question in the back of my mind: If I could go back in time and prevent myself from becoming sick, would I do so? While that period was by far the most difficult time of my life, I believe that if I had not gone through those ordeals and if I had not experienced such devastating failure, I would not have been forced to become the tenacious, courageous, and introspective person I am today.
My successes hold so much more value to me when I consider how much it took to climb from failure to triumph. Learning what it is like to experience failure taught me not to fear it. Waking up day after day overcome with a sense of hopelessness taught me how to find inspiration in the bleakest of moments. And the overall experience taught me how to transform despair into a zeal for life.
So no, I wouldn’t change the past if I could. . . because ultimately, from my failures I learned how to become the best version of myself.
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