Break Your Own Boundaries
Emily. Age 13. Jamison, Pennsylvania

The sun beat down, like a blanket of heat. An amalgam of emotions set in, excitement and anxiety; so did the imminence of the hurdles. Everyone staggered into line, a mob waiting to meet the obstacles. The gleaming metal of the hurdles calling my name, urging me to try them, to challenge myself.

The intimidating task remained undone, so runners began to tackle them. Some efforts were futile, leaving a foot too low, tripping over them. Crash, bang, clang. Some runners were auspiciously soaring over the obstacles. It was a feat yet unknown, yet thrilling. Too soon, a voice called, “Who’s up next?” It was now or never.

“I will go,” I proclaimed apprehensively, staring at the hurdles, ready to face my metal opponent. All eyes were on me, adding weight to my shoulders, pushing me to succeed.

My legs were ahead of my mind, lurching forward into a sprint. Swinging from side to side, my hair was a mess. But that didn’t stop me. Every muscle in my body strained to jump, to clear the nefarious hurdle. Innumerable doubts entered my mind. Did I have the right technique? Was I supposed to lead with my right leg? Or my left? Do I spring up high? Or stay consistent? What if all my efforts were futile? The hurdle getting closer and closer with every step, I felt pent up with energy waiting to be put into use. Jumping, I extended my right leg powerfully, bounding over the metal barrier. My left leg trailed behind, following the lead of my previous efforts–reaching the apex of the jump. I began to lose height. Hitting the ground sprinting, I already was mentally prepared for the next ones. I sprang up more confidently, having the experience of already clearing one. Gathering all of the energy I had left, legs sprinting, arms pumping, I sprang up with force. I sailed over the last hurdle, breaking the chains of doubt and second-guessing. Friends cheering, joyfully awaiting their own attempts, I ran off to get back in line. All of us runners attempted the daunting task, trying something new.

The hurdles were something new, exciting, and a bit of a menace at first. As time went on, attempt after attempt, the hurdles tipped over, were jumped over, and fallen on. Everyone was trying new things, pushing their boundaries, their own hurdles. It gave us confidence and thrills; many of us persevering to accomplish the challenge. The air began to cool, the sun’s rays began to retreat. We felt the atmosphere calm and so we did too. Glancing over our shoulders, we walked into the building, leaving the hurdles behind.

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