BE passionate joyful euphoric intense angry present ALIVE
I was a twelve-year-old boy sitting on a school bus and fighting back tears as I pretended not to notice that my hair was being tied in knots. The entire bus seemed to shake with laughter, which always sounds loudest when it’s driven by cruelty. The interminably long ride finally ended with showers of spit reigning over me as the bus pulled away.
When I got home, my father was waiting with a baseball bat. “Want to go hit some balls?” he asked.
“Oh yeah,” I said, my teeth clenched and my hair still in knots.
I had been bullied for as long as I could remember. I was a shy, skinny kid with bright red hair and a funny name, a million freckles covering an otherwise alabaster body. I was an irresistible target. Yet no matter how difficult my day had been, I always found solace on the baseball field, where I had one simple objective: Learn how to hit the ball as hard and as far as I possibly could. Over the years I spent countless hours pursuing that goal.
I had a good swing, but I was not a natural athlete. Nothing came easy to me, and I missed many more balls than I hit. Yet I had a willing partner in my father, and the sheer volume of pitches he threw me taught me more about life than any parental wisdom he could impart.
The years of practice allowed me to discover greater potential than I knew existed. As my skills grew, so did my confidence. The bullying stopped, and I went on to have a celebrated college baseball career. But more important than my athletic accomplishments is the lesson I learned during those late afternoons on the field: Unrelenting dedication is essential to strengthening my courage and achieving my goals. Through baseball I discovered an inner resolve that I rely on to this day. Though I'm no longer an athlete, I still pursue my dreams with a competitor's intensity.