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Resiliency in Tough Times

When I was 13, I was put into a group called Upward Bound. I was considered an at “At Risk” youth. I always thought was somewhat hilarious. But, I was from an “inner city” and my parents didn’t graduate from college. I had enough drive to do well and my teachers could see that I could do great things, but I might need a little extra help.

I never felt like I was an Inner City kid until I was in high school when I was asked if I was part of a gang. I thought that question was ludicrous, because no, I wasn’t in a gang. My parents both worked and we had a yard I played on my street and I would bike around my town with my friends. Yes, there was a gang in my city and I bike around them at 11, but they never bothered us. It was just part of life in my city. I never felt that I missed out on any opportunities.

Part of the initiation of Upward Bound was to go into the woods for two weeks to hike in the Appalachian Mountains. (Remember, I’m originally from Connecticut). We had about 12 kids in our group and 3 college guides. We had hiking packs that were about 40 lbs each. In the packs were food, lighters, our clothing, a tarp to make into a tent and a sleeping bag. We carried all of our supplies for our weeks in the woods.

Every morning we had to do a run to warm us up and then we would jump into a river to “shower”. Our “toilet” was a hole in the ground. We would dig a hole , and bury our goods. If we were lucky, their was an outhouse. For drinking water, we would find moving water and add iodine to it. It was a huge change from the luxurious toilet and sink that gives us water every day!

One part of our journey was canoeing. I found out I was horrible at it, but I went canoeing a few other times in my life after this and became a little better-well, sort of.

My least favorite part was our solo days. Two days, two nights in a 10′ x 10′ area. We had food (nuts, dried berries and water) and we had to spend our time with no reading material, reflecting. We even had to use the bathroom in our 10′ by 10′ area.

At the end of the two weeks, as a team we had to scale a 10′ wall. It was a challenge, but our team made it up the wall. At thirteen years old, we all created a bond. Every summer until college, we met up to do summer courses

Before Upward Bound, I was not athletic at all. I didn’t really have any drive to be on a sports team or work out. After Upward Bound, I joined the track and swim team. My tenth grade year I ended up running almost every event in track (why not?) and I ended up lettering for meeting state qualifying times. Although I never became a champion swimmer, I appreciated the training that I went through and learned a lot. I ended up teaching swimming to eighth graders my senior year in high school.

Applying The Past to Today

This quarantine has reminded me a lot of my time spent in the woods as a thirteen year old. I have reflected on my time in the woods, and I’m thankful that I had to go through Upward Bound. I was not appreciative of it at the time, but I have often looked back on it and I am glad that I did do it. There have been so many times in my life I have wanted to give up on things. I know that I have gone through so many obstacles in my life, but I don’t even give myself the opportunity to think of giving up as a choice because of what I did when I was thirteen.

The Quarentine will eventually end. Some people are looking at it and counting how many days it has been. I suggest you don’t do that-it honestly doesn’t help. I realized counting how many hours I had been in the woods up my anxiety. Counting how many days you think it will be until it ends doesn’t help either.

Trying to enjoy the minutes and taking in what you are doing during the time you have is what you can control. You cannot control anything other than yourself, so control your thoughts and make today count!

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