Overcoming a life change

Please tell us something about yourself, your experiences, or activities that you believe would reflect positively on your ability to succeed at Penn State. This is your opportunity to tell us something about yourself that is not already reflected in your application or academic records. We suggest a limit of 500 words or fewer.

All it took were fourteen words to obliterate twelve years of passion. It had all been taken from me.

As I sat in the cold hard chair across from the neurologist’s desk, I heard her voice, but I didn’t want to. Her words were a blur, as if my ears had given up with the shock that had overcome me. “In concern for your health, I advise that you do not play lacrosse anymore.” I felt my skin flush in panic, and my brain just give up on processing the conversation. I felt as if I had been pulled from the room and was watching, helpless, from outside of my own body. I was speechless and unable to react, and I simply sat in silence.

I had been playing lacrosse since before I learned arithmetic. For my fourth birthday, my brother gave me my first lacrosse stick, and from that day on, I was addicted. I got increasingly involved as I got older until lacrosse became my entire life and defined who I was. Growing up, I aspired to play varsity lacrosse, but I never got the chance. In a JV game, I made hard contact with an opposing player, putting my body on the line to stop a goal from being scored. This had been my job as a defenseman since I was six years old. But this hit wasn’t like the others. I recognized the instant and intense pain in my head immediately. At that exact moment I knew that I had just suffered my second concussion, the one that sidelined me from my favorite game for the rest of my life.

What followed had become familiar. A trip to the neurologist, multiple concussion tests, and “cocoon therapy:” two weeks in complete darkness and silence, locked in my bedroom, in total isolation. I had done it before, but this time, as I sat in the darkness, I couldn’t think with excitement about my return to the lacrosse field. Instead, I was left to face the harsh reality that whether I liked it or not, my life was fundamentally changed.

Now I found myself facing an important choice. I could either let this defeat me, or make the most of the situation and use it to my advantage to gain maturity and improve myself. I did just that. I used my new free time to expand my involvement in other aspects of my life. I was able to challenge myself more academically by increasing my course load significantly, by participating in more than double the hours of community service, by becoming more active in school organizations and obtaining multiple leadership roles. And along with all this, I spent more time with family and friends.

Fourteen words changed my life. Fourteen words that once haunted me, but no longer do. Now, I see those fourteen words as the sentence that gave me the opportunity to change my own life for the better, and to become the person I am today.

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