One of the hardest things I have ever dealt with as an athlete is injury. Not only does it hurt you physically, but mentally as well. This past year has been really rough on me with injuries, but I’ve continued to fight through the constant uphill battle and keep my eye on the prize. Getting back to living a normal life is my top priority, but the ultimate prize is to get back to my active lifestyle as an athlete. I know that it doesn’t come easy, but I have full confidence that the difficult days will pass, and I will come back stronger than before.

So, what keeps me coming back you ask? I have been a gymnast for nearly my entire life. I have never really lived life without gymnastics or sports, so when I found out last June that I needed to have ankle surgery and  would be out of commission for at least a month, I was torn. I had never really dealt with injuries before, so I didn’t know what to expect or how to feel. When my doctor told me that I should be back to sport after a month, I told myself that it wasn’t that long and that I could do it. Six months and lots of frustration and tears later, I was finally almost back to 100 percent and was ready to take the mat again. As much as I wanted to quit, I knew that I had come way too far to give up. That rush that you get when you are doing what you love is like no other feeling. The memories that you make with your teammates are the greatest memories you’ll ever make in life. I didn’t want to lose any of that.

During my first meet back from my ankle surgery recovery, I tore my ACL. That day was emotionally one of the worst days of my life. After hearing my knee pop, I knew that I was done. I kept telling myself that I let my team down. I let myself down. In that moment it was extremely hard to keep a positive mindset. My team still had to compete, but with one less person. I had never felt so guilty in my life, but I knew that I still had to be there for them, even if it wasn’t physically. So, I cheered them to victory on the sidelines. The months following the injury were gruesome and tiring. I was then and still to this day physically and emotionally drained, but I have bigger goals in mind. I am a team player. I am determined to get back to doing what I love. Even if I don’t physically get back to 100 percent, my team needs me.

If I could go back in time and tell myself one thing, it would be this: Never settle. The rough times will pass, the injuries will heal, and the stress and anxiety will eventually subside. Life isn’t always about you. There are so many people in this world who are going through the exact same troubles as you are. There are people in this world who need you, whether it is on the mat, life advice, or even just your smile. There is so much more to life than the material things. Don’t ever settle for what you have. There is always something bigger to strive for and achieve. Swimming through the rough waters is one of the bravest and strongest things I have ever done, and I am not done yet. The best is yet to come!