She told me I was fine, that I just needed to work out more. She happened to have an open slot for the echocardiogram room though, and would it be ok if she just checked that nothing was wrong, just to be sure?
“Yup, there’s a hole” was not supposed to be a part of this hospital visit. I didn’t wake up at 6:30 a.m. on a late start Wednesday in the middle of my sophomore year to be told that I had a congenital heart defect. I was supposed to be in Spanish class in half an hour, not seated next to my sobbing mother as the doctor drew a diagram of the four chambers of the heart on a whiteboard conveniently located in the exam room.
But while my mother may have been completely shocked, I felt, initially at least, relief. All those years of being the last one to finish the mile now made sense. Of never being passed the ball in PE. Of trying ballet, karate, soccer, basketball, swimming, tennis and squash and never really doing well in any of them. On some level I knew somehow that I was different.
Instead, I focused on other, non-athletic pursuits. That was why I joined El Estoque. It started off like all the other hobbies I had tried, not exactly fun, but something to do to pass the time. Then I joined the sports section.
Due to my forced disinterest in athletics, covering a girls water polo game was my first time attending a school sports game. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to it.
But the atmosphere was magnetic. This is what I had been missing out on all those years — the urgency of the players, the excitement of the crowd, the joy of the victory. I finally understood why people refer to their favorite team as “their team.” I was so invested in the game that I felt as though their victory was my own. Although that was the last water polo game of the season, its impact on me was pivotal. I realized that I didn’t have to stop liking sports. In fact, now that I thought about it, I liked basketball. And their games started next week.
I always thought athletics were something I could never be a part of. I thought I just wasn’t meant to be a sports person. But as a sports writer, I learned that there are many more ways to get involved with sports for the less athletically inclined. I got to share the excitement I felt about the games through my stories. I was able to bond with people and make new friends through sports, even though I wasn’t playing. And I learned perhaps the most important lesson that I’ve learned in high school: getting out of your comfort zone can lead to incredibly valuable experiences. It sounds cliché, I know, but only because it’s true. If I had never joined the sports section of El Estoque, I could have spent the rest of my life assuming that I didn’t like sports. I could have cut myself off from such an enriching human experience.
So go ahead. Get out of your comfort zone. Talk to somebody you don’t know, join a club or go to a water polo game. It might just change your life.