“Ring, Ring,” the chiming of my alarm is so vibrant, shaking my whole body from deep sleep. Grabbing my phone from the bedside table and squelching my eyes to the bright screen. It is six AM; exactly seven hours away from the swimming competition. I was a bit nervous about the whole competition; instantly, something within me responded with “You cannot do it. You are not ready for this. You will not succeed. You can make up excuses like you are sick or you are having a headache.” I close my eyes, soaking all those thoughts in, I try so hard to resist what is discouraging me. 

After what seems like the longest five minutes of my life, I get up to prepare myself for school. Nothing new but just the same old routine; eating my breakfast, dressing myself up, reviewing my class notes a bit, and leaving my house at last. When I leave the house, as if the weather sensed my mood, it was humid, cloudy, and foggy. Perfect! I walked by the silent dark street for the hundredth time with my packed backpack and changing clothes. Everything seems to weigh heavily on my shoulders today.

Somehow, I feel out of place like I am secluded from the rest of the world; trapped in my own fear and body. On a train full of people, a school full of students made me even weirder, like a stranger. “I do not want to look at anybody. I do not want to talk to anybody.” Maybe, I do want to look and I do want to talk to people. However, I am tired from all those battles happening in my mind. I do not know where all those come from and why this is happening to me but I do not know how to find solutions, at least for now. 

Time is ticking so fast. The constant reminder of how the competition is drawing near. I try to concentrate on my studies and forget what is going to happen in only one hour. However, the one and only truth that I must face reality lingers in my mind. I go to the pool with my teammates. I pay close attention to the other swimmers. Then, I wonder why none of them look nervous or stressed. Are they peaceful inside just like they appear on the outside or are they the opposite; just like me, but with a mask?

In the blink of an eye I hear the coach calling names for what type of swim each swimmer is doing. She calls out “Zoe, fifty-backstroke in the second relay, one-hundred-backstroke, and fifty-freestyle. Alex, fifty-freestyle in the first relay, one-hundred-backstroke, and fifty-butterfly.” In just a few minutes, officials blow the whistle and announce “Take your mark!” With that I get into the water in ready position. The second whistle blows. I start to swim the fastest I can, moving my legs and arms the hardest I can. I do not hear anything except my heavy breathing is making this weird noise with the splashing water and the constant repetition of “I can do it” in my mind. I do not see anything except how fast I am swimming by the high moving ceiling. I reach the other end telling myself the first twenty-five-meters are complete; then the other half. I do not mind how long I take to finish the fifty-meter not because I already gave up, but because, at the moment, my time is not my priority. My priority is that I did it. Therefore, all the things that were happening in my head since the morning were just a false belief that I can never succeed and I am not getting out of my comfort zone ever. 

I now know, even now, there is this small part of me that is always discouraged which never gives me hope and it will be there as long as I live in this world. However, I came to the conclusion that whatever it says I have to believe in myself that I can make it. Do not let the discouragement step over you, but just trust yourself. If I can do it, You can do it, We all can do it regardless of what is bothering us.