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But I am an athlete. I believe inside every athlete is a unique struggle. My struggle is to provide balance in my life. My goal is to become the best version of myself, athletic and otherwise. My dream is to become an Olympian.

The struggle seems constant and goals are achievable. However, I believe dreams are all that matter. Dreams define an individual. Definition isn’t based on the dream becoming reality. Regardless of the outcome, the act of passionately pursuing dreams is the purest form of success.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of the world’s population does not choose to pursue dreams. Some blame life. Some were never given a chance. However, I think many simply don’t believe in themselves. I used to relate with all of them.

I grew up in a house full of pain. Shortly after I was born my dad went to jail. My mom worked multiple jobs and strug-gled to raise three kids on her own. At the time she was not a

happy person and that affected my brothers and me in a big way. We saw her take on a defensive ‘me against the world’ attitude and soon it became a way of life for all three of us. We didn’t even find allies in each other.

On my seventh birthday my parent’s divorce was final-ized and on that day we moved into the trailer park. Unfor-tunately, my mom had to work late nights and I was often left home alone. The idea was for my older brothers to watch over me but, as I said, we didn’t get along that well and they had their own friends. I had no clue how to connect with my peers. I wasn’t the best behaved but I wasn’t out of control. Many parents didn’t want me hanging around their kids. I remember calling my friend and his mom told me to never call again and to stop hanging around her son. I was seven.

At this time of my life I felt absolutely worthless. I felt hurt. I felt abandoned. I was very lonely and very sad. I hated my life. While all these emotions encased me inward, hate was my reaction outward.

This unhappiness continued for many years. However, in the midst of this unhappiness there was a spark of hope. Instead of choosing to hate the world I chose to go for a run. Before I knew it I had run two miles and found myself feeling at ease. I had never run longer than two miles but, feeling good, I finished eight miles and embraced the struggle for the first time using all that negative energy as fuel. I didn’t realize it at the time but it was the first step toward a happier future and the beginning of a new journey.

Running began chipping away at many years of hurt by converting that negative energy into something positive. It became my Zen, my preferred form of meditation. I was able to connect and realign with myself and the world.

With every mile I ran I gained more clarity.

childhood but I’d remind my far worse situations and man to go after their dreams.

I’ve heard many stories abou nosed with life changing dise near death experiences, had d obese or physically challenge heart goes out to each and ev with such adversity. It’s the w those people who chose to co the face of adversity that insp

My biggest strength in lif

apply based on the experienc vate me to be the best version tastrophes arise. I pay homag do not take my health for gra

Over the years my reasons fo an outlet has matured. It bega stress relief and growth. Now make meaningful connection

Christopher sChroeder

never-die-attitude

I’m not an Olympian.

I’m not a professional athlete.

courage

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