It’s homecoming week at my high school, and I’m honored to be on our homecoming court as a representative for our senior class. I was on court last year, too, and as Friday draws closer, I’ve been thinking back on my experience last year and everything I learned from it.
To be honest, when my name was announced last year as part of the homecoming court, I thought I’d either misheard the announcements or something had been announced wrong. I couldn’t believe it. But when my phone began to be flooded with texts from friends congratulating me, I realized that maybe I hadn’t been hearing things, after all.
While I was beyond excited and honored to be on the court, I also knew I had an interesting journey ahead of me. Part of our school’s homecoming festivities on the day of the game is a parade around the school- and by “around” I mean we walk down every single hallway in the building in about twelve minutes. I’d gotten to walk in it freshman year, but by the time I’d walked about half the route I was too exhausted and worn out to finish it. In my mind, there was no question whether or not I’d walk the whole thing this time: it was happening, no matter how tired I got. My physical therapist didn’t think the same way, though. “I don’t know whether you can handle both the parade and the football field,” she said.
I just shook my head. “I’m going to do this,” I said. In that moment, homecoming became about something else: proving her wrong.
So I practiced. Every day, I’d leave my third block early and walk the route, having whoever was with me clock me so I knew how fast I’d walked and how much faster I needed to be. By the time I finished, I’d be red-faced and feel like I was about to collapse, but slowly, I built my endurance. Little by little, I got faster and stronger, and eventually convinced my physical therapist I could handle both the game and the parade.
Against everyone’s advice, the boots I wore to school weren’t wide enough for my braces to fit into. In my mind, the braces would look awkward and while I knew no one else would care, I did. So I wore the boots they didn’t fit into, and when nine AM rolled around and my feet were already hurting, I wondered if maybe I should have listened to my parents and everyone else who told me not to wear them.
The pain only intensified as the day went on, and I began to worry that I would trip and fall during the parade. That was the last thing I wanted to happen. But when I shared that fear with my friend Noah, who was walking the parade route with me, he promised to catch me if I fell. He eased my worries and made my fear completely disappear.
Noah blew me away that day. As we walked, he kept telling me how great I was doing. His unceasing encouragement helped me push through the pain and was my motivation as I became more and more tired. When we finished the parade, he looked at me and said, “We did it! You did it.” Not knowing how to tell him what his encouragement meant to me, I put my arms out and hugged him, grateful that he had been right next to me the entire time.
Noah and I right before the parade began.
When I think about homecoming last year, the parade is what I think about, not walking across the football field with my dad that night. That was amazing, too, but the parade showed me that I was stronger than I knew and that if you put your mind to something and work for it, you can make it happen. It doesn’t matter how much pain you’re in or how tired you are. What matters is the effort you gave and the people who were right there with you throughout everything. And it showed me that no matter what others think or even what you might think at times, no obstacle is impossible to overcome.