Ist Prize for 10th Graders at Chinmaya Mission Alpharetta, Writing competition 2021
Adversity is not a new concept for me as I have been battling with difficulties all my life. Most people understood the gravity of adversity last year due to Covid Pandemic that devastated the entire world. Due to speech and developmental impediments, I have had to learn to deal with adversity from an incredibly early age and I was well equipped to handle my life turning upside down due to Covid.
The Gita specifies some useful tips on handling difficulties. The Gita says to look at each difficulty as an opportunity to move ahead with new resolve and goals. The Gita also advises that suffering is not permanent, and we can transform our inner lives to effectively be in control of our destiny.
I have developed my own strategies to battle against adversity. If I hear something negative being said about me in front of my face, I try to let it roll off my mind without affecting my soul. I think of my happy place like the ocean, is calm and peaceful despite all the waves that constantly rise on its surface. Most people disbelieve in my ability to accomplish anything meaningful in my life. I use those derogatory opinions to inspire myself to work harder every day and prove all my critics wrong.
This past year my life was turned upside down just like everyone else in the global environment. Due to the Covid pandemic, all schools switched to virtual learning. All social events were cancelled, media created a frenzy of fear with reports of hospitalizations and deaths of Covid victims. My parents became overly concerned about staying healthy and I was cut off from most face-to-face contact with anyone else other than immediate family. l felt very frustrated and sometimes angry at these sudden restrictions imposed on me. Virtual school was also hard due to having to sit in front of the computer for many hours which I was not used to as my school day incorporated a lot of walking and other social interactions.
My teachers, mother and I sat down and made an action plan for my mental and physical health while the Covid raged outside and continued with its path of destruction. By physically isolating ourselves we had the mental peace of not worrying about being exposed to Covid and could use our energies for positive goal setting.
Firstly, I needed a plan to keep my body regulated through the day with frequent movement breaks. We devised three daily workouts, one in the morning before 10am at the treadmill at home, a midday workout outside to get fresh air and sunshine as available, and a final workout in the evening with an experienced coach online. For social connections, my teacher offered a weekly walk and talk session outside in the fields of my High School. On weekends, we went to Lake Lanier or a day trip to the mountains to appreciate the beauty of nature. On holidays breaks, I connected with my friends online to play games on Kahoot and discuss current events.
I decided to do something for my friends as well ease their loneliness during Covid. One of my mother’s co-workers runs a non-profit organization called Inspiring Together. I helped to write a presentation to propose a Friendship club with typical teenagers and their special friends to meet once a week to discuss common topics of interest. Luckily, my proposal was accepted, and a Friendship Club has started where special needs teenagers can feel more included in the community as a whole and get an opportunity to discuss their ideas with their teen counterparts. I am extremely excited about this program and to be able to contribute to the community for a higher ideal.
Thus, I would say that adversity closes a lot of doors but if we can look at every obstacle as an opportunity then it can be life changing. There have been days that I have felt sad and frustrated, but they are exceedingly rare. I have been remarkably busy working on enhancing my academic and vocational skills and trying to help my community friends to also cope with loneliness. Also based on the Gita I know adversity is not permanent and patience as well as restraint is the key to sail through the tough times. Sometimes I think of Anne Frank and her family hiding out in a small cell for 2 years with her family during the Nazi regime, fearing for their lives every day. I have the freedom to go outside daily to lower the chains that bound me. Even though Anne Frank’s story ended very tragically just 2 weeks before the end of World War II, I am hopeful for a successful conclusion in my story where me and my family will be healthy, and I can go back to school in the Fall of 2021.