my heart pounding in my chest
as I faced the obstacle course in front of me,
a physical representation of my life.
The other children in the karate class sat
with their backs pressed against the wall,
Will they laugh? Please God, don't let them laugh at me.
I took one shaky step, numb with worry, and began to work my way through the course, afraid to glance at the children against the wall, afraid that their faces would be painted with judgment.
Shame settled in my stomach when the instructor lifted me over one of the obstacles because my eight-year-old legs were unable to jump.
That's when I heard them. It was a low murmur at first, a gentle whisper...
The other children...
they were chanting my name.
They were cheering for me.
All of them.
The dread gave way to pride as the murmurs became shouts, a chorus of children's voices chanting my name over and over again.
My steps were still stumbling, my gait still shaky, but somehow none of that mattered anymore.
I saw no judgment in their faces, no laughter; only smiles.
To this day, I am grateful to those children who cheered for me, week after week and year after year. They got me through countless obstacle courses.
I haven't seen most of them since middle school, but I hold their encouragement within me, turn to it when I feel unable to navigate the obstacle course that is my life. They have no idea how much their cheering meant to me.
And I just want to say thank you to you, my readers, for your encouragement. I'm not sure what I expected when I started a blog, but it wasn't this. I never expected to meet so many incredible individuals, people who boost my spirits when I'm down and cheer for me when I'm afraid. I never dreamed that I would find such an amazing community of people.
Thank you for reminding me that our world is a beautiful place to call home.