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Adversity! A process I’ve learned to embrace.

Learning-to-Overcome-Adversity-600x600In life, every person deals with his or her own challenges and struggles that can either hinder or make you stronger. I was taught that adversity introduces an individual to themself. It is easy to be positive in the good times, but who are you in the rough times? During the rough times, I believe, your true character steps into the spotlight.

How do you react when a divorce happens or when a friend is killed?

I was raised in a family of 6 kids. If you add in our friends, our family felt like a basketball team substituting with my siblings like bench players doing for starters. I always played on my older brother Moses’s teams and was always known as “Moses’s little brother.” My brother was the tallest, biggest and best player on every team. I was always the smallest, skinniest kid that played on his team.

People would look at me and look at him then look at me and ask if I was really related to him. To this day, I believe he stole my food when I was little and ate it when I wasn’t looking. I remember always playing on his teams, actually, I remember always watching him play from the bench. I was the best bench warmer and water boy a team could have. I remember one game I wanted to play so bad that I wore my favorite socks with jingle bells on them that would ring every time I walked just hoping for the chance to play. Sure enough, I didn’t get to play. I thought it was because of how small I was that I wasn’t playing so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I turned to salt. Yes, salt. Every night I would climb up our pantry and steal the salt so I could put it in my shoes hoping that would help me grow. That didn’t work either. I turned to stretching, hoping that would stretch me out to be taller. As you can guess, that didn’t work. I was running out of options and losing faith about growing to be as big as my older brother.

Mom told me to focus on what you do have, rather than what you don’t. I took that to heart and started focusing on me instead of focusing on everyone else. I was smaller and quicker than a lot of people so I remember thinking if I can become good at handling the basketball, no one would be able to get it from me because I am so low to the ground. So from that point on, I dedicated myself to becoming the best player that I can be, not what Moses could be. Besides, he could have my food…I already had the salt.

When I focus on the best that I can, I am competing with the person in the mirror. No matter what happens in life, I always feel that I am in control of my own destiny. But without adversity, I never would know what I need to work on and what I am capable of.  

What lessons has adversity taught you about yourself?  

By Marcus Alipate