Tennis

I’m addicted to winning, I always was. Growing up I played basketball and softball. In basketball I hated running up and down the court endlessly and I was too passive to play defense it wasn’t in my nature to be that aggressive. But I still enjoyed the sport because I loved the feeling of getting a basket. There was nothing like it, your heart racing, mind flourishing as the ball leaves your hands and makes its way up to the basket. You watch it with anticipation as the destiny of the ball is left from the control of your finger tips to fate. I also played softball growing up, and there was nothing more boring to me than standing out in the outfield, I would stare out into space holding back a yawn, resisting the urge to lay down on the outfield and bask in the warm spring sun. But I still enjoyed softball because I loved the feeling of going up to bat for the same reason, I was in love with that rush of adrenaline I always received upon walking up to home plate, helmet on, bat in hands, I got butterflies every time. However when I was in the ninth grade I found a sport that gave me the same feeling that I once received while getting a basket or hitting a home run constantly. A sport where you’re constantly up at bat you constantly have the chance to shoot a three pointer. Lets just say, the moment I picked up a tennis racquet I quit both basketball and softball instantly.

After the moment I first picked up a racquet in freshman year I began playing all of the time. I constantly hit with anyone who was available, I remember practicing in the rain, getting dropped off alone at the courts with a handful of balls so I could practice my serve for hours on end. I would run sprints up and down my driveway, do jumping jacks until I felt sick, and stay up late at night tossing a ball in the air and catching it repeatedly. I would beg my mom or my sister to go to the courts and hit with me. One day I even went down to my basement and lugged a huge board up the stairs and outside where I tilted it up against the face of my shed and created a backboard to hit balls against. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing; all I knew was that I liked the feeling playing tennis gave me, I loved the way that improving a shot, having a long rally, or hitting a winner made me feel.

Tonight I write this after setting a 4:55am alarm on my phone which will wake me up to go play tennis indoors with my sister and friend for an hour and a half before school. Then from 3:00pm- 5:00pm I’m going to play for another two hours. Hitting the same shots over and over again, the same service motion, the same stroke, the same footwork, yet I never get bored of it. I’m always sad when practice is over. I go to bed thinking about the way my wrist rotates inward on my forehand and the pronation of my left elbow on my slice backhand. I constantly crave the feeling of getting a point, nothing motivates me more. When I’m not on a tennis court, I’m wishing that I was.

Someday when I have a job, I hope that I will be as happy as I am when I am on a tennis court. I hope that I feel the same sense of satisfaction and achievement through my future profession as I do when I hit an ace during a tennis match. I hope that every moment I’m working my future job it feels like I’m hitting a forehand down the line winner, not like sitting in the outfield or running up and down a basketball court. I want to be addicted to my job, obsessed even. I hope that I will wake up feeling as eager to go to work someday as I will feel tomorrow morning at 4:55 when I wake up and lace up my sneakers and gather my racquets in the dark.

 

                                                           ARIZONA

Doorway

Imagine yourself standing beneath a doorway, gazing longingly through the entrance of this door looking at the reality in which you yearn to live in; the environment in which you would choose if you were in control, without the presence of laziness, negativity, or temptation; a place where you would be the lone dictator of your emotions, your feelings, your reactions, and your destiny. Imagine that the sole purpose of your existence is to gather up enough strength to walk through that doorway… but you can’t. Tied by rope around your waist is an impenetrable weight which prevents your legs from moving, no matter how hard you try to push your body forward and through the door, your limbs refuse to budge. Everything you have ever wanted is in sight, your dreams are so close that you can extend your arm and scrape the edge of them with your fingernails, yet no matter how hard you try your body will not allow you to take that final step.

The truth is that every single person in this world, your family, your friends, and even yourself are being held back by this weight. This weight represents everything which prevents you from achieving your dreams. This weight is the group of friends who tell you its okay to sit around and do nothing all day. This weight is the media, who tells you that you’re never going to be good enough, pretty enough, or talented enough without their expensive products. This weight is the negative influences that pretend to be your supporters but secretly wish to see you fail. This weight is the people who knock you down every time they see you improving because they know that they do not have it in them to work half as hard as you do.

Some people are so used to the presence of the weight that they become heedless to its existence. Others don’t feel the need to get rid of it and simply continue down their own path of ignorance and bliss. Other people lack the ability to hold themselves accountable for the weight, they can’t accept the fact that the existence of the weight is entirely their fault and that they have the choice to remove it at any time. These people instead blame the weight, or their flaws, on others or on the world around them.

Now the question you need to ask yourself is how can I get rid of this weight which is holding me back? The answer is simple; work hard. Take everything that this life throws at you and see it as an opportunity to prove to the world that you are a fighter. If you want something, make it your mission to get it. Don’t take no for an answer. If people don’t laugh at your dreams and call you crazy then your dreams aren’t big enough. Be ruthless, work harder than you thought was possible. Make sure your goals are the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning and the last vision that runs through your mind when you close your eyes to go to sleep. Do pushups on your bed room floor when everyone else thinks you’re asleep. Read until your eyes feel numb. No one was born special, every athlete, scholar, professor, expert, and impactful human had to work endlessly to receive the recognition and reputation that they now have. They had to listen to “you’ll never be able to do that”, “be more realistic”, and “you’re crazy” endless amounts of times. Look at every day as an opportunity to better yourself or to better someone around you. Be that kind of person that makes not only themselves but everyone around them better. Accept everyone and empathize with them as if their struggles and weaknesses were your own. Make sure that every single person you meet has somebody that cares for and accepts them, by being that person for everyone in your life. Talk to strangers, learn their secrets, and convince them to tell you stories. Go out into the world each day with a mission to learn a little bit more about everything, and then go back to your bedroom, close your eyes, and decide what you as an individual believe in. Make sure every piece of food that enters your mouth, every thought that flows through your mind, every conversation you have, and every single moment that you are present on this earth goes into making you the best version of yourself. If you want to achieve success you need to want it more than a drowning man wants air.

If you take anything away from reading this, let it be this: Stop wasting your time. Time is an instrument invented by man that was meant to be manipulated. Use every second as if it were your last and treat every moment as if it were the greatest gift you have every received, because it is. If you are my age, then one day, thirty years from now, you are going to wake up in a completely different bed, in a completely different home, with a completely different group of people. You will not be able to remember the name of your tenth grade math teacher or list off more than a handful of kids you went to high school with. Everything you are doing right now will soon become a blur so you need to make strategic use of your time. Make sure you are constantly bettering yourself, thinking outside the box, having abstract conversations, executing productivity, thinking freely, expressing compassion, and improving yourself in some way. Because that is what you are going to remember and what is going to help you thirty years from now, not the clothes you’re wearing, or the ‘memories your making’ you’re your friends.

freedom

Hello, my name is Carly Scanlon and I am a high school senior. I am obligated by law to wake up every morning and go to school. I am expected, by my family and my peers, to apply and attend college next year. I am assumed to only care about clothes, parties, makeup, and boys.I am entitled to freedom of speech but I am expected to speak a certain way. I am allowed to choose my own path, but I am supposed to go to college, get a job, get married, and start a family. I am permitted freedom but being trained to not use it. I am free but it doesn’t feel like it.

My perception of freedom cannot be justified through any sort of law, regulation or amendment. To me, real freedom is a state of mind, a feeling that is only generated by those who are not afraid to open their hearts to all of the beautiful opportunities and privileges this world has to offer. One of my first experiences with true freedom was achieved through sitting on the bare pavement of a parking lot, using a plastic fork to eat soup out of a red solo cup, surrounded by my favorite people in the world, behind a camper which was attached to a car that was prepared to take us to any destination we wished. We laughed together, enjoying the view of the world from our seated positions as people walking by waved or occasionally shot a strange look. I realized on that day that their opinions and judgement of my actions just didn’t matter one single bit to me, I could care less about what any onlooker thought about me as they passed by. I never felt so free. Free of any responsibility, any care about societal expectation, any pressures to fit an image or a mold. I finally understood and experienced the value of leading an original life. I finally realized that I was holding back from being who I was because of social limitations that society has implanted in my mind and convinced me to abide by. The world is so much more beautiful when you just stop worrying about all these boundaries and start listening to who you are and following the path that you believe is for you. Don’t loose your sense of originality in the fog of what you think you’re supposed to be doing or what is ‘expected of you’. When you remove your mind from this expectation filled environment you will see that the world really is yours. You have so many choices, so many opportunities that are disguised behind sayings such as “what are the chances that you would be able to do that?” and “be more realistic”. Freedom is the act of defining yourself and choosing your own destiny. Don’t just picking what you want to do off of a list, create your own list. Freedom is having the ability to find happiness out of every situation you come across. Freedom is needing nothing.

The Woods

The faint sounds of my own footsteps pose as the only element grounding me amongst this endless abyss of darkness, reassuring me that I have not been swallowed up by the deep night air that fills my lungs and conceals my face from the others around me. Without the help of my eyes or the sunlight to guide my path, every step I take holds a strong purpose, forcing me to be overly conscious of every move I make, as I do not have the privilege of seeing where my next step will take me. Without my sense of sight, I am forced to rely on touch and act based on intuition; I realize how insecure and vulnerable It really is to take in an unfamiliar surrounding without being able to use my eyes to guide me. I have no idea what lies ten feet in front of me, or what I am encountering underneath my hiking boots, all I know is that I need to trust myself, clear my mind of negative thoughts, and keep moving forward with small conscious steps. Slowly, this insecurity and uncertainty starts to fade as I successfully climb further and further up the wooded mountain terrain. I feel my confidence expand with every step I take as my fears slowly vanish like my cold breath that I exhale into the dark night air. Suddenly I feel my feet come to a plateau, I get an overwhelming feeling that I am on top of something; as I reach the peak of the mountain I am climbing, I am faced with a striking realization which impacts me both physically and mentally. This realization is something which I only experience for a slight moment, and one in which I could not fully understand and struggled to put into words. After realizing as a group that we had retched the top of the mountain, the six of us simultaneously turn our flashlights on and my eyes fill with the light which I once relied on so heavily for comfort and security. As the sight of my true surroundings fills my vision, I suddenly cannot remember the epiphany which I was so keen to just moments before. I search my heart for the wisdom I just experienced but I struggle to focus as my brain is too occupied with taking in the surroundings. The perception of where I was that I created with my mind was so quickly replaced by the reality of my surroundings. Suddenly I wished I had never turned on my flashlight, I wished my eyes were never exposed to the tree filled landscape I was standing upon. The reality of where we were tarnished the internal interpretation of my  soundings and forced me to loose the epiphany that my inutrition and self trust allowed me to create.

To be continued