Free Write
Everyone's a Loser
Nobody likes losing. Whether it’s an 8-year-old playing in a game of town soccer or a professional basketball player in the NBA Finals, everyone can agree that nothing is worse than coming up short. In the long term, however, nothing is better. The fire that failure ignites burns brighter than that of any success or victory. We are motivated by the emotions that we associate with our past deficiencies and are determined to avoid them. Defeat is like getting a shot—temporarily painful, ultimately necessary. The lessons that I’ve learned from defeat have been better than those I’ve ever learned from any mentor or coach. In fact, almost all of my achievements have been the result of previous failures.
I’ve played sports for as long as I can remember. Since both of my parents are from Germany, it’s only natural that I started playing “Fußball” almost as soon as I could walk. Some of my earliest memories are from J.P. Youth Soccer, either stumbling around with the ball or waiting until practice was over so I could finally go to the candy store on the way home, a request which my dad rarely denied. 
As one of the better players on my town soccer team, I expected to be among the top of the BLS boys soccer team. Within the first 10 minutes of the junior varsity tryouts, however, I could sense that my chances of making the team were extremely slim. My 5’2” scrawny build and basic footwork simply couldn’t compare to the seemingly massive sophomores and juniors contesting my spot. Accordingly, I was hardly even held in consideration during the candidate selection, and barely secured a spot on the freshman team. I was crushed. My world was flipped upside down. But I took the indifferent words of coach Jason Miller and I used them as motivation. Now, 4 years later, a BLS JV soccer captain, I’m glad I failed. 
Aside from soccer, I was also an avid young tennis player. I attended the Brookline Tennis Camp every summer with my brother, where my love for the sport first blossomed. The first tournament I ever participated in went quite poorly for me. Not even placing in the top 3, I was given a medal for my participation rather than the much more attractive trophy. “I don’t want a stupid medal”, I said indignantly as we drove away from the courts. I couldn’t believe that I, the Roger Federer of 6-year-old tennis players, had been bested by random children. That medal, however, has been my motivation for the last 10 years, not for its intended purpose, but rather to serve to remind me of what arrogance and a lack of preparation brought me: nothing. Now, a BLS varsity tennis player and a proud member of the United States Tennis Association, I’m glad I failed. 
Although it definitely is important to lose, there’s no doubt that failure hurts. Because of this, we’ve tried to take away some of the pain by declaring everyone a winner and giving people an award just for taking part. These participation awards are more detrimental than beneficial; while they may lessen the blow of a loss, they take away from the lesson that comes with failure. Children need to learn that defeat is a part of life, that once they grow up, there won’t be anyone to give them a trophy for trying or even to pick them up if they fall. 
As gratifying as it is to win, it’s important to face the occasional defeat. If knowledge and experience are the goals, then the constant winner is also a loser.
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8
March 8
8th of March shines brightly—
my day of redemption,
of repentance,
baptized into joy and hope.
The epistle to the Romans
pumps purpose and promises
into me.
I wish to make them possible.
 
But 16
March 16
16th of March burns strongly—
possibilities crush,
bust and fall
and fall 
like 11th-of-September debris.
The gold of my tassel greys,
glitter and polished shoes fade,
dreams and destinies are delayed...
Senior year will never end the way
I want it to.
 
Within 8 days,
an infectious thief
snatches my breath
and steals my final stretch
of grade school.
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Free Write
I Don't Ride Bikes Anymore
When we moved into our beige apartment on the border of Boston and Dedham five years ago, I remember missing the green of our old home. I didn’t like being cooped up inside and didn’t like the thought that our bikes were sitting in the basement. I just kept thinking about those bikes, how they were feeling about as hopeless as a figure skater with legs that didn’t work and yet all I could do was sit around and dream about using them once again. I wished that there was somewhere I could ride around. 
That somewhere was the empty parking lot of lonely Dr. Brown’s pediatric office next door. I sound certain but I think I’m remembering wrong because maybe lonely Dr. Brown isn’t all that lonely and Dr. Brown isn’t even Dr. Brown and I know he isn’t even a pediatric doctor, he’s--
I was wearing jeans that day. 
It was a smart idea looking back because somewhere in my dream-poisoned mind I think I knew something bad was going to happen and even though I didn’t have knee pads or elbow pads, I was pathetically paranoid enough to wish for something small to make me feel safe. 
I was riding my dad’s mountain bike. Blue, nothing special about it--except, it was special because it wasn’t my dad’s, it was someone else’s and--
I hit a curve. 
My sister was behind me, squealing in excitement because she was outside and she felt free and apparently that’s what people sound like when they’re free, finally. 
I was your typical pretentious older sister. I desired nothing more in that moment than to show her what I’d learned in my biking class the previous year: How to signal a turn. 
Step 1: Take your left hand off the handle. 
Step 2: Don’t fall and plunge to your untimely death. 
Step 3: Bend your arm upwards to signal a right turn, hold it out straight to signal a left. 
Step 4: Repeat Step 2. 
I would like to note to you now, dear reader, that concept of actually teaching her these steps was merely for the sake of fulfilling my role as the Smarter and More Epic Sister. It was nothing that she could ever use, since our mother had a livid fear of us riding amidst traffic. 
At this point in my life, or as I like to call it, A Series of Bad Choices, I’d somehow decided to take my left hand off the handlebar, holding it out proudly in a left signal. 
If the slipping of my grip was any indication to go by, the signal was blaring in neon red font dusted in bold and italics that everything was about to take not just a left turn, but a downward one. 
Time slowed down just like in the movies when there’s a couple crossing the street right after their first date and there’s a car coming and the girl isn’t paying attention and the guy has his heart pounding in his ears and he’s running and jumping and tackling her out of the way as the driver slams on his brakes. Suddenly I wasn’t sure exactly who I was playing, the girl or the boy, but I found myself on the concrete, breathing hard. My leg was twisted awkwardly beneath the still spinning wheels of my dad’s bike, the sensitive skin of my palms sliced by jagged concrete where I’d planted them to stop the momentum from pulling my face straight into the ground. 
(It’s still funny to me that in that split second moment when I was flying off the bike like some angelic monkey, my first instinct was still to save my face.) 
The world keeps turning, that’s what I kept thinking to myself as I lay there for a second, watching the wheels turn. I closed my eyes as the dizziness hit, waiting for the inevitable end as the world spun sporadically about me.
When my mom came rushing over, I tried to push myself up, wincing when my arm throbbed. 
This wasn’t nearly as romantic as the movies made it seem. 
My mom quickly untangled the bike from my limbs and clutched my face in her palms. 
We were both breathing hard, but I was crying because my leg hurt so badly and I was certain I’d never walk again and how could I be a figure skater if I couldn’t use my legs? 
It was funny how desperate I became in that situation. I didn’t think about the hard life my mom would live if she had to help me out of bed every morning, assist me when I had to use the restroom, hold me tightly as we trudged up two flights of stairs to get into our apartment. I was just thinking about that figure skating career of mine. 
Selfish. 
I was crying. 
My mom was yelling. 
There were a whole lot of arms wrapped around me, hauling me up. 
We were trudging back to our apartment and I was wiping my eyes. 
It wasn’t okay.
Except it was. 
Okay, I mean.  
I suppose sooner rather than later I should come clean with my story the same way the past me was coming clean, wiping her tears as she peeled off her jeans and stared at the dark bruises marring her skin and the cuts stinging her palms. 
I didn’t miss the green of our old home. Sure, we had a backyard and it was nice, but I’ve always had terrible allergies. Truly, I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life indoors if I could. 
The parking lot wasn’t that of a pediatric doctor. It was a dermatologist's, I remember because we went there once a few years down the road when my skin was acting up and extremely unamicable. The office was rather drab. A pediatric doctor makes the story more interesting because then you’re thinking about pastels and adorable baby animal stickers plastered on the walls and it’s cute. You don’t think of what I think of, brown walls, peeling wallpaper, and of course, the legendary before and after treatment pictures of his clients’ skin problems.  
My dad’s mountain bike was not blue, it was pink. It was pink because it used to be mine, but of course, I didn’t want you to know that because I wanted you to think that it was the unfamiliarity of the bike that made me lose my grip and fall. Surely you understand that I was trying to make a dignified impression. That said, I do understand that in the process of writing all of this to you, much of my dignity has already been lost and whatever remains will most likely be thrown down the drain no matter how hard I try to salvage it. 
This last truth is not one I would like to share as it further proves my previous theory of a drained dignity, but for you to truly understand exactly what was going on in my brain, it is something you must know. 
After my fall, I was not crying because the fall hurt me or shocked me I had seen it coming. The fear as soon as my grip slipped from the bar, the light brush of air as the wheel jerked sideways, the freezing of the moment in time, all crashing and colliding...The adrenaline was what kept me numb. My heart was beating fast, that much I remember, but I did not cry because of the pain. I was crying because of the stricken look on my mother’s face. I was crying because her harsh words scared me. I don’t even remember exactly what she was saying, but it was rapid-fire and I remember clearly the shake of her voice, the way her eyes widened as soon as I made contact with the concrete. 
I was...
It was her fear that made me cry. 
I was...
Surely you understand why.
I was selfish. 
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What do you mean you're sad? What's wrong? You seem so happy, what could possibly be wrong? You can see everything, but you don’t know everything. You might think you know a person, but you might not know what’s going through their mind. “You can’t judge a book by its cover because you won’t know anything till you open it up.” Everybody handles pain differently... 
- some write 
- some draw
- some cry 
- some talk 
- some laugh 
- some smile 
- some stay silent.
You won’t ever know what a person is going through till you're able to see the pain in their eyes. Until you're able to see tears run down their face and them giving up on life. Until you see them at their lowest. Everybody goes through a hard time but some don’t know how to handle it. You need to be easy on others because you never know what somebody is going through. Just keep an open mind. 
You can’t give up. You need to stay strong. Don’t take your life because things feel too difficult. “Suicide is a permanent decision for a temporary problem.” At the moment things don’t feel like they are getting better. They are just getting worse but I promise that things will get better and soon you will feel satisfied with yourself. 
My point is your life matters and if you take it, it’s going to affect not just your family, but a lot of people. Remember your worth, remember your purpose on this earth, and don’t let the demons inside you take control. 
You’re loved, remember that ❤️. 
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I've always considered myself a soft person. I’m pretty sensitive; I can barely take a joke. Of course I've had my braver moments, like when I got on that scary ride that had the biggest drop I’ve ever seen, or even the one that flipped upside down a million times. I was my bravest throughout 2019, though. That was the year I really had to pull through and be tough. I feel like I wasn't strong at all, but this experience is what made me into the stronger person that I am today. 
When I switched schools I cried so much. I had to leave all my friends; I knew our bonds would break and I wasn’t ready for that. I had to start waking up earlier. Every morning I woke up, I would always think to myself “I hate my life,” and I meant it. I felt anger toward my mom for making me switch, and pain because I felt so lonely. I was quiet that year at school. It’s like I had friends but I never really came out of that shell. I never felt a part of the circle. 
I’ll never forget that summer. My parents argued like crazy. I hated my life even more. For every little thing, they got into it. It was torture to my mind and I could feel myself falling apart. They argued more than got along. It would be a good day and then we get home and they just break into another fight. It was tiring. It happened so much that I could count the days between another argument. It was so loud. There was nowhere in the house I could go without hearing it. It hurt so bad because I just wanted them to shut up. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t talk it out. Why did it have to get to such a bad point between them? Their relationship was so broken and all it did was break me. 
Then came my mom's leg injury. That same summer I was sleeping over my cousin’s house when my sister told me about my mom.
“When did this happen?” I asked.
“Yesterday.” Why does no one tell me anything? My mom was in the hospital and no one told me. Apparently they “didn’t want me to worry.” When I went home, there she was laying in bed with her leg elevated with a cast, and a scab on her chin. I was so confused and I felt like nobody was telling me the full story. But of course, I remembered “yesterday.” That day everybody was at the lake and my mom showed up angry with my dad. They got into it and I was just so embarrassed. I didn’t want my cousins and everybody else to see how my parents were at home. I submerged myself underwater and I screamed and sobbed. People would only see the bubbles in the water and not hear the screams; they would see the water dripping from my face and not the tears falling from my eyes. They left together and I stayed with my sisters. That’s probably when her leg injury happened. Because of her injury, she could barely walk. She couldn’t get anywhere without her crutches-meaning no summer for me. Where was I supposed to go if I had nobody to take me? Especially with my dad working, it was only me and my mom at home. My mom stayed in her room most of the day; she only got up if necessary, so I stayed in mine. I watched basically all of Netflix and Youtube and ran out of music to listen to. But I still found something to watch. I stayed up late and slept in even later - and I still woke up tired. I was sad all the time and I was bored out of my mind. This is when what started to be depression, built. 
I never told anybody about how I felt. I kept all my emotions bottled up inside me. It was to the point where I wouldn’t eat almost all day, just because I didn’t feel like it, and I wouldn’t even feel hungry. I felt trapped inside my house. I hated it there. I hated being in a place that I was always in. It’s like I never left. 
When school started up again, things got worse. That’s when I experienced the worst of the arguments. My mom accused my dad of cheating before. A few times. I would always get annoyed because I thought she was just acting crazy and jealous of little stuff; I know my father and I know how much he loves my mom. I knew it inside of me that he’d never do that. But there was this one day that my mom was yelling at my dad to see his phone, asking “Who’s Carmen?” Carmen. An unforgettable name. Carmen was also married with kids, and was a close friend of my dad. She messaged him through instagram and I guess they became friends. I didn’t believe my mom’s accusations as usual until my sister and I saw the phone. 
"I miss you. 
You don’t miss me?"
This is what my dad sent to Carmen. 
Carmen is the woman my dad cheated with. 
My mom messaged Carmen through my dad’s phone. 
"Call me. I need to talk to you," she wrote. 
"Why? Is everything ok?"
They went back and forth and Carmen kept asking why “my dad” needed to talk to her so badly. 
"Word?" Carmen asked. 
This could have meant two different things. My dad said “word” a lot so my mom can either respond by saying “word,” or they had a secret word together. This is probably one of the moments that hurt the most. My mom did option one and responded by saying “Word.” Wrong. 
"What’s the word?" She asked.
My dad was in the basement packing his stuff. My mom goes down, asking what the word is. I was upstairs with my sister crying. We both cried. 
“There is no word!” He promised my mom. It was so loud. I couldn’t take it anymore. I went downstairs myself. I didn’t want to do this but I had to. He won't lie to me. I know my dad wouldn’t lie to me. It was the only way. 
“What’s the word? She said there was a word so what's the word? ” My voice was shaky. The tears poured through my eyes as I talked. I was barely able to talk through all the pain. I hated it. I hated having to turn on him. It hurt so badly. It hurt my soul. My dad is my best friend, and having to go against my own best friend will never be easy. He looked so hurt in his eyes. He noticed the damage he’d already caused, not just to my mother but to me too. 
“There is no word.” Another lie. He lied to me. He lied straight to my face. For some stupid woman he destroyed the family with. My dad threw things across the basement. Sharp things. I yelled at him to stop. I was scared. I like to think that I wasn’t scared of my dad-he’s not dangerous. I told myself that I was scared of what’s happening. But at that moment, I don’t know if I can tell you that I was scared of the situation. I don’t even know what I was scared of anymore. I was just afraid. 
Another day, my dad asked to borrow my phone to call my mom since she was ignoring his calls. After a few minutes, he gave it back. 
A few days later I went to go check Carmen’s Instagram; I felt like saying something but I didn’t know what to say. I was just so frustrated. I hated Carmen - but when I found it, my phone told me I had to unblock her to message her. Unblock her? I never even blocked her. This makes no sense. I unblocked her and went to message her but there were already messages there. 
"It’s Mutombo. 
She knows how and I’m sorry." 
So that was the word? Mutombo? Why would my dad use my phone and my instagram to apologize to this woman? She doesn’t need to be apologized to! I never told my dad I knew about the messages. It just angered me so much that he used his daughter’s phone for somebody who didn’t deserve it. 
My mom talked to a few guys after my dad. I hated all of them. I hated that she was “moving on” because I still felt as if she never really moved on. Of course my dad “moved on” too, and by that I mean getting he got a girlfriend and my mom had a boyfriend, but they know that if they could go back they would do things differently. I didn’t like my mom's boyfriend or my dad's girlfriend for a really long time. I had no interest in meeting them or saying anything nice to their faces. My mom was always on the phone with her stupid boyfriend. I always made sure to say something rude.
It was hard for me when I met her boyfriend. Next thing I knew he was moving in. I didn’t want that at all-- he was a man I didn’t know. He wasn’t my dad.
Meeting my dad’s girlfriend was easier for me since I was already used to having to be nice to people. At that point, I already accepted that my parents weren’t getting back together and I didn’t want them to. They were no good together. It was hard and took me a long time to come to that conclusion. The amount of tears I shed, and the way my happiness went all the way down from such a high point is crazy. But life isn’t easy. Everybody knows this. It sucks, but you just need to push through it. I still try every day. If you’re reading this and had to deal with something genuinely hard, you’re just like me. You’re just as strong. Everybody is brave in their different ways. This was mine.
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