The Summer of 2005 was my first birthday and no guests visited. There was a cake and a toy.
The toy was a helicopter with a broken wing that didn’t turn-on or chuff. I always wondered why it was like that.
Also, to bear in mind, my parents emigrated from Nepal when I was seven months old. I was too small, too chubby, and too witless to contribute to their struggle except for the grins and the giggles that made it easier for them to move on with their days.
Not until sophomore year in high school did I learn how much my parents had struggled during the early years in the US. I also found the helicopter didn’t run, only because my parents couldn’t afford a toy during that time. So, they rummaged that broken chopper from someone else’s trash.
Nonetheless, my intent in this narrative is not to inspire any sympathy. For me, this story is not as somber as it sounds. In fact, I got an opportunity to understand my parents’ struggle with a newfound humility. Their story and their sacrifice helped me get through a struggle, even if minor, was all my own.
Somewhere around the same time I was in high school, and nothing was going well. More importantly, I could not seem to get faster running cross-country. I had always loved running since early on, but at that point, the sport felt more like an obligation than a passion. I strove for motivation but failed to find one. At the heart of this disquietude, I knew the slip-up was only because without a clear plan, I just was not driven.
As fate would have it, one morning in September of 2019, while I was struggling to run at the practice, Jaclyn, one of my faster running mates, asked me to run with her. I refused at first because I knew I couldn't keep up with her and yet, for some reason, I decided to plug away. That day, I called out on whatever was holding me back and I ran with her. I ran for myself and for my parents, and I ran to be the best version of my possibility.
This gave me confidence and made me realize that I could accomplish what I thought was unimaginable. I realized my doubts and insecurities stemmed from my failure to push myself outside my comfort zone and that merely wanting something is not enough. I also had to act on it!
After that day, I proactively began creating a routine that I consistently followed. Just in a few weeks, I started seeing improvements.
Aside from the track, I also got in touch with a few friends from Nepal and created a think tank named ‘The Connectors.’ The goal of this group was to support Nepal’s diplomacy with the other countries, especially its neighbors like India, China, and Bangladesh.
I became one of the senior captains in the Colleyville Heritage High School Cross-Country team. We qualified for the state three years consecutively and our team finished fourth among 5A Schools in Texas during the 2021 season. Meanwhile, I also frequently volunteer by visiting the middle school runners to motivate and encourage them.
I often think about that moment in my sophomore year where something snapped into the place, and I began to turn my life around. Some part of me believes that moment is defined by my friend’s lending hand while the other part is the inspiration from my parents' adversities.
Nietzsche once said, 'A person with a Why can bear any How or What.'
That forlorn summer morning, that dwindling moment of despair and gratitude, when those hapless hands picked that toy, that’s where I found my ‘Why’.
The lowest moment my dad and my mom endured to give me a wisp of joy is now my highest moment to give them theirs back.
(Rijal is currently studying at Colleyville Heritage High School, Texas)