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Sports, Life Lessons, And Bethany Hamilton

“Normal is overrated."

Not fitting in gives you a chance to be uniquely wonderful, so don’t feel ashamed or weird against anybody. Be yourself.

A couple days ago, I was watching this inspiring movie called “Soul Surfer,” telling the true story about professional surfer, Bethany Hamilton. She’s one of my favorite and most inspiring athletes of all time, not only because of her talent and athleticism, but because of how she handled and still handles her situation.

Bethany Hamilton lost her arm at the age of 13 in 1990 due to a shark attack while surfing in Hawaii, but that didn’t stop her, not even close. She did struggle to find a new perspective in life after the attack; realizing how different everything was going to be and all the hard work she was going to have to put in to continue her dream of becoming a professional surfer.

However, Bethany had zero doubts that she was going to surf again, it was just a matter of when. After she failed in her first competition, coming back from the injury, she was confused on why everyone still admired her even if she failed, and that was because the effort and desire to surf and compete, in spite of her circumstances, was worth more than winning, because it inspired others and showed her inner strength and courage.

As she quotes, when told by her own dad that it was not going to be an easy journey: “I don’t need easy, I just need possible.” Leaders and champions only ask for one thing, a chance. If this quote does not give you an idea of how strong minded she is, then this one will: “I wouldn’t change what happened to me because then I wouldn’t have this chance in front of all of you, to embrace more people than I ever could have with two arms.” What does this quote say to you? To me, it shows how easy it can be to take whatever happens to you, good or bad, as something unnecessary, insufficient or simply not for you. When in time, you will be able to see it with another perspective, one to lift you up, lift others up, and make you stronger. As described in the movie, when we are looking at the stuff that is happening to us really close, it is very hard to understand why it’s happening and we are most likely to see only the negatives, get anxious for what we think the future will be like, and assume too many things to count.

I believe that in certain circumstances, like Bethany’s, allows others to feel compassion, a force that grows out of love and that you don’t need to know the person to feel it. Compassion makes you think of what’s really important in life, and one of those things is to be grateful and appreciative for all your blessings. It can drive us to do amazing things and the reward is more than just a feeling, it becomes inner peace and a satisfaction like no other. Therefore, when you’re feeling attacked in your life, doing what you love will bring you peace and will help you stay calm. In fact, this is how it is explained that Bethany saved her own life, by staying calm and praying to God for her to make it through.

This is why sports are a way of life; they teach you life lessons, give you unique experiences, and make you physically and mentally stronger. More so, I believe that sports give you hope in that there is something special out there for you, something that does not need proof for you to believe in, and that is faith in magic. It might sound dramatic, but I firmly believe that my sport has given me more than medals and trophies; it gave me friendships, opportunities to travel around the world, the opportunity to get my bachelor’s degree while I played the sport I love, and most importantly, it brought me joy and happiness.

At age 11, I remember I had this desire to become the greatest basketball player of all time, I would literally do anything to get better every day. I also do remember that it was not all fun memories, I had my struggles, but I used to fix them by playing. It brought sense to me, solutions to my problems, memories that made me laugh, and most importantly, it brought me peace, as if playing basketball was all I needed to be doing right at that moment.

Then by age 13, I found another passion, volleyball. In fact, volleyball helped me get through the changing of schools. I found the greatest of friendships somewhere I definitely did not think I was going to, a new school right in the middle of adolescence. This time I wanted to be the greatest indoor volleyball player of all time, and that lasted for about 4 years, until another passion came along, beach volleyball.

And guess what? Now I want to be the greatest beach volleyball player I can be, and God knows how long this is going to last. What I mean by these consecutive stories is that we can find passion, no matter at which stage we are in our lives, it is always there and it can be more than one.

In most cases, sports bring out the best in you; they show your best version that reflects your dedication, struggles, discipline, courage, passion, and competitiveness. I wanted to share one last quote from the movie that says: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has a plan for each one of us, made out of pure love, and all we have to do is trust in Him and face our challenges knowing that His intention is to make us exactly who we are meant to be and that is our greatest version.