← Back to all stories

Photo ofundefined

Last year, near the end of my sophomore year my girlfriend broke up with me. I was occupied with finishing my schoolwork, and the pandemic had just started. To say the least, I was emotionally, mentally, and physically sore from everything that was going on in my life, but I wanted to shift my focus to earning money and taking better care of my body. The first morning of progressing toward my goals, there was the smell of fresh morning dew as I woke up to work out. After finishing, I felt so much pain. I felt worn with back, knee, hip, and full-body pain because of the strain I endured the day before.

Yet, something started to improve; the next week I was lifting my usual weight comfortably without much effort, so I had to increase the load and intensity of the process. As I walked out of my house there was a pleasant warmth from a sunny day that was just right. Through amplifying the intensity of my workout, I became stronger and more resistant to the soreness of withstanding the frustrations, injustices, intricacies, and prejudices of life.

I learned to be patient, resilient, and consistent with who I was and to not give in to my doubts, fears, or impulses. I developed these characteristics by using my pain as fuel to bolster my self-improvement. Part of my heritage as a Hispanic is remaining strong and disciplined, persevering in the face of obstacles and never backing down while pursuing a better life and an improved version of myself, like Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez who grew up in the Bronx and lost her father while in college. Yet despite this, she became the first Hispanic Congresswoman in 2018.

Balancing my physique, schoolwork, health, and job fortified the defining aspects of my heritage. The pain I felt served as fuel being added into the fire I still have within me. The growth that follows is that of a muscle, restoring and strengthening itself after being worn and torn.

One Saturday morning I woke up to the bustle and hustle of cars passing through my neighborhood and when I went to the bathroom the minty freshness of toothpaste filled my nostrils to the brim as I looked in the mirror and saw a much stronger, mature, and battle-hardened version of myself. Staying on top of my educational and personal responsibilities was tiring and stressful; however, it is also something that teenagers often go through.

One way I grew as a person is when I allowed myself to rest after undergoing pain-inducing experiences. As I worked out by persevering through the challenges in life, it caused soreness within me, and through recuperation, I flourished. Therefore, the soreness I felt post-workout is not what created a better me, it is what allowed a better me to be created, much like Dolores Huerta who helped Caesar Chavez found the National Farm Workers Association in 1962. However, despite being brutally beaten by an officer in San Francisco during a peaceful protest, she chose to shift her focus to women’s rights rather than quitting activism altogether.

Towards the start of my junior year, I had become resilient due to the soreness I underwent, which reinforced my heritage through enabling my growth, betterment, improvement, and a better me! That is what my story is all about: using the soreness I undergo daily as motivation to grow.

© Anthony Garcia-Urena. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.