I never lose – either I win, or I learn. Junior year was a year full of learning hard life lessons – the kind that we are never fully prepared for. After losing my classmate Anthony Penna to a car accident on October 3rd 2017, junior year was bound to be a year of pain and darkness. Everyday was a battle and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. My junior year was a year full of isolation, depression, and death. Every day I felt weak enough to break at any time. Seventeen is a tough age because you’re not a child anymore, yet you’re constantly reminded of how you’re not an adult yet either. I found the strength to manage my teenage responsibilities such as school and sports while dealing with adult issues like working part time and dealing with death and depression. It wasn’t until I lost everything that I was able to realize I never truly lose, I only learn. Throughout my life significant people and places have left their mark on me as person. Without these people and places I wouldn’t be who I am today. The most memorable person to do this was my best friend Mark Dombroski.
I have always been outgoing, fearless in meeting new people and trying new things. As a freshman, I took a leap of faith to sign up for the school’s rugby team, which was coming off a national championship season, with an established brotherhood of some of the most intimidating upperclassmen on campus. Despite the two-year age gap, Mark quickly befriended me, teaching me all the rules and strategies of the game and giving me a friendly face to watch and learn from. From the day, I met him I knew Mark was special. No matter who it was, he could make anyone smile with his quick wit personality and charm. The smile he had when he played could light the world. Some of my best memories with Mark came from the rugby field as I watched him lead our team with resilience, determination, and heart.
Mark and I were always so similar. We were inseparable, anywhere we went we went together and everything we did was always me and him, side by side. I was even called the nickname “lil dombro” for the way me and Mark acted so in unison. The way he lived was so natural to me. I watched every day I was with him as he lived his days making other people happy. He taught me what it meant to be compassionate and understanding. Mark showed me how to be there for people when they need me and never to never turn my back even if I maybe going through something of my own. I could talk about my depression and isolation in full detail to Mark and there was never a moment where he made me feel like he wasn’t there for me. He taught me to never give up and to hold a certain standard for the way I lived and carried myself.
Mark was sadly taken from us on March 18th 2018. This date left its mark on me in a way I’ll never forget. After a year of agony and feeling like there was no one who could help me get through it, God took the one person who could. I am the youngest of three kids and have two older sisters. My whole life I wanted an older brother. As the youngest in a family with three boys, Mark never had a younger brother and often called me his. I felt empty and broken, as if I had lost everything. How could God take my only brother? However, something happened that day. My broken heart that had been filling up with regret and loss was filled with a new light.
Every feeling of loss or pain I’ve felt was always the worst feeling but that day I came to the realization that all my loss has paved a road to learn from. That if I’m broken down from pain I need to grow and learn from it instead of letting it dictate my life. Since March 18th 2018 I live my life in a new direction. Everything I do I give it my all, I’m not scared to fail or lose because I can’t lose. I can only learn from these experiences and use them to become the best form of myself that I can be. My experiences have taught me a lot about myself. They’ve showed me my resilience, determination, and character. I don’t fear the future for I have nothing else to lose, but so much left to learn.
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