How 7 Miles Made Me a Tougher Person

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Before this experience, I never really knew how pain, intimidation, and fear would change my life for the better. I thought pain and fear were experiences you should try and prevent yourself from encountering. Yet, immersing myself in this situation turned out to be a life lesson that I will always carry with me.

My exhaustion washed away by excitement:

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My High School Marching Band was invited in front of an entire national audience to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade my junior year of High School. When it was first announced, it seemed as if the exhaustion from marching the past six months was washed away with a sweet feeling of excitement.

My dream becoming an unexpected reality:

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When I fast forward to January 1st 2016, one year later, my feelings of excitement deteriorated as I was experiencing what I initially thought was a dream. I was still excited and thrilled to represent my high school in its first national television event, but I didn’t know how much tougher it actually was going to be to pull off.

Carrying myself with confidence:

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There is a certain way you have to hold yourself when you’re inside of a marching band: your feet and legs have to look like everyone else’s, you must take the same step size as everyone, your torso has to be strong to carry yourself, your horn above parallel so the audience can hear your instrument, and your chin elevated above parallel at all times.

The motivation to keep me going forward:

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And even if all else fails, your eyes must look with pride. Imagine having to do all of this for 5 miles...with the added bonus that you’re on live television...and you’ll get what I mean. On top of everything else, I was positioned at the middle of the line which is the place that usually is most vulnerable to faltering.

Setting an example by putting on the best version of myself:

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With freshman in between me and my fellow seniors, I could not mess up or let any of my physical fatigue get in the way. The freshman were looking at me and I knew that I had to be the role model for them so that they would feel empowered. I had to keep going, not for myself, but for them.

The physical pain took me down uncomfortable but necessary avenues:

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I sometimes think about how my arms were shaking in pain, about how it hurt, and about how much I wanted to give up. But I mostly think about how amazed I am to say that I actually did it. Walking seven miles was the most powerful moment of my life, and I am proud of what I helped my school and fellow peers accomplish.

Turning Negatives into Positives:

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I learned that inside of harsh moments in life, one usually thinks of the negatives before how the event can actually change them for the better. Whenever I feel down about myself, I think of this situation and remember how much it made me grow mentally.