UC Prompt 1: Describe the world you come from - for example, your family, community or school - and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
I couldn't run the mile. What everyone took with a groan and a sigh of relief, I took with a quiet scream at myself, screaming at my shame and disappointment at the fact that my body refused to let me finish the last lap and be strong like everyone else. I could start out strong in the first lap with almost excitement, but by the third every step was not like fire in my lungs as everyone described it, but like someone took out my breathing line and reduced it to a straw. I couldn't take in more of that beloved oxygen of life. The rest of the pain in my legs and arms was more or less expected. Then coming into that fourth lap, where I was just barely starting others were crossing the finish line, I was breathing with a hacking cough, tears from the pain and fear that I was almost doubling over just to breathe. The coach hearing me told me enough, to stop. With that, my thoughts were this was it, another failure, another simple problem I couldn't solve or change, my diagnosis of asthma. Another dreaded mile came along with another year of 7th grade, only this time something changed. Laps one and two were the same, starting fine then only breathing hard. Then the third came, and the noise of someone drowning came, taking in a deep mouthful of air I told myself I could finish this; I had to finish it. Then someone running in front of me did something no one else ever did, he slowed down to a jog turned around and gave me a smile and thumbs up. With my head held high, I mentally told myself to slow my breathing pace, don't panic, finish the mile, for that one smile. And somehow I did it, making it across to the end after everyone else had already gone to take water breaks and waiting for class to end.
Many times we underestimate the power in the single smile and that was what made all the difference that day. Those miles, although they seem like simple exercises that were just a part of physical education, came to be my backbone. Those were the times I felt the need to dig a little deeper to find that the spark inside me, and find the determination to finish what I chose to start, whatever that maybe. And those smiles of encouragement and support, came to be reflected in both friends and family in everyday of the coming years that held another mile for me to run and this time finish. But I didn't finish it alone, my tired legs may have been carrying my body, but those smiles carried my heart to the finish line.
I came to realize that I wanted to be able to carry someone else to the finish line, wherever that may be for them, become the smile and thumbs up whenever anyone needed one. I broke out of my quiet, hard shell that 7th grade year. To many I was known as a shy, distanced, extremely quiet student who just sat in the corner and did what was expected. When I gave class presentations, the only person who could hear me was my teacher standing next to me and smiling politely as even the front row students strained to hear. After that finished mile, I began smiling a little more, opening my shell just a few cracks and to my surprise, some special people were able to squeeze their way in and do some interior decorating. I started to realize that I did not want to go back to the quiet shell that I hid inside for so long. In later years I actively volunteered with clubs where I made an effort to meet and talk with more people. My school's tennis team grew to be my second family and by their encouragement I was able to condition and actively play without any physical limitations. Through these experiences I met many inspiring people---to whom I promised to try my best and pass on the feelings their smiles held for me. In life, I will walk and run many miles where I come across all the different types of people this world has to offer. In doing so, I strive to understand the mile each person goes through as I hope to become more than just a smile that they can count on.
*This is a raw response to the prompt so any critiques and advice are much appreciated. Thank you!*