There was a time in my life where I ran track and field. I competed in a few different races per event. 400m Hurdles, 110m hurdles, mile, half-mile, and relays. I wasn’t exceptional, but to be honest I have asthma, which caused quite a bit of troubles too. I am also short (even still) and hurdles was one race that the other racers kept telling me I couldn’t run it.
I didn’t listen to them, they told me what I couldn’t do, and yet I was still able to run and leap up above my waist height to clear a hurdle, and keep running. They were impressed by my abilities, but the time came for my first meet. I was nervous, anxious to prove my mettle. I wanted to prove them wrong. I was nervous as could be as time came to step onto the track line.
I got in line with six other racers. Two were from my school, the others all from the rival school. I felt like I was going to explode off the line and show the world exactly what I could do. The gunshot fired, and we were off. I poured all my energy into my muscles, and burst off the line like a shot. I was in a lead with my little legs pounding the track-mat furiously.
However, my team members were right. I was spending just a few milliseconds longer in the air than the taller runners I was facing. This millisecond delay was enough for other runners to start gaining a lead before I had even touched the ground yet. I was starting to fall behind. I put more effort toward my sprint, trying to land and burst out like a shot each time. Then, the horrible moment. My lead leg clipped the hurdle, and I went tumbling down.
As I fell, I tried to use my momentum to carry me through the tumble, and back up to my feet in one continued motion. As I managed to fumble my way through it and continue running, I noticed that I had fallen from 2nd place to 6th. I wasn’t done. I was still determined to prove something. I kept running, feeling the asthma kicking in and my lungs felt like they were doused in gasoline and set ablaze.
I was hoping to not fall into last place, giving every effort to prove that I could do this. I knew as other racers gained more and more of a lead, it wasn’t looking good. I wasn’t about to give up. I poured my heart and will into my running. Just as I cleared another hurdle the racer next to me clipped his hurdle and went down to the ground. With a new vigor I pushed harder.
In the end, I passed him and finished 5th. While I understood my limitation, I also had proved that despite what people believed, or said, I was able to do what they didn’t believe I could. The point of my story isn’t to tell you how great I am, but to tell you that life will always have a hurdle in front of you. A hurdle that you will have to manage, time, and make it over before you can keep running.
These hurdles are obstacles, and hinderances. They are the people telling you, “you can’t do that.” They are the disbeliefs you have, or others have in you. They are troubles and problems, and occasionally, you may clip your own hurdle. Tumbling down to the ground and falling out of place. You may feel you’ve already lost. Wish you could just get up and walk away. The tumble has only set you back further than you anticipated. You have a race still going. You’ve come to a point where a decision must be made.
You can choose to give up the race, to let yourself fail, and call it quits. You can give up on the hope you had to finish this race and make it in a slot. You may even choose to give up on the dreams of being able to race at all, and thereby give up on your own abilities.
Or, you do as I chose to do. Put your heart into it. Put your will into the race, into the pushing forward despite setbacks. You can choose to continue running with everything you’ve got, and while it may not pan out the way you had dreamt, the satisfaction of knowing you finished what you set out to do, is as gratifying as winning a medal. To push yourself beyond your known limitations, and push further, you can see how far you can really take yourself.
I tell you this story, to inspire you to make that choice. To never give up on what is important to you. The road ahead, and its hurdles may be unforgiving, but if you can use your momentum, roll with the falls, and keep running, I am confident that your pride will swell with accomplishment. You can find those goals and dreams waiting for you at the end of the race, if you’d just push yourself past the hurdles.