A Bump in the Road – Redirection

As I follow what my grandson Ryan Finkelstein has been doing in his developing writing and sports journalism career, I’m reminded of an essay he wrote 5 years ago. What  he is doing now is also a reminder of how a passion can last and be redirected, sometimes growing even stronger. 

Starting, even before he was 9 years old, Ryan dreamed of being a baseball player.

And he never got close to it as you’ll read in his essay below.  Written in response to a college application question:

“Describe a bump in the road in your academic or personal life.”

I was highly moved by the depths of what then 18-year old Ryan wrote, as well as the maturity of his writing. With his permission, I shared it on another blog at the time it was written in 2013.

If I never lost everything that I was, I never would have become who I am today, and the most important thing I have learned is to have faith and work hard and everything will work itself out.” (His concluding statement in the essay that follows.)

“The first sixteen years of my life were devoted to one thing and one thing only, baseball.

I was very much the same kid at sixteen as I had been my entire life, very simple and naïve. Not naïve in a bad way but so consumed by my passion that I hadn’t done that much growing up.

That all changed the Spring of my sophomore year. I had recently gotten my first job working at a fast-food restaurant and was starting to be opened up to the real world. Balancing a job, school, and baseball was going to be nearly impossible but I was preparing to face the challenge until my world was flipped upside down when I didn’t make the team.

I had spent nearly two years as a part of my high school baseball team and all of a sudden my entire identity at my school was erased. It was probably the hardest experience of my life only because I was in uncharted waters for the first time in my life.

I realized that some of my friendships were fake and superficial and once I was off the team my old friends almost disappeared. So I had to turn to the only new thing in my life and that was my work. Working for the restaurant was the greatest learning experience of my life, mostly because of the age I was at the time and the personal growth I went through. A job will mature you faster than you can ever expect.

First you start to have to meet a lot of people. Which was almost surprisingly new to me because although I have always met a lot of kids in school I had never really met people who were too different from me. All of sudden I have friends who are 10, 20, even 30 years older than I and I’m just this young kid.

The job taught me responsibility. I learned how to manage my money, and it really just gave me a completely different perspective on life in general. I am cognizant of the world around me and much more self confident than I have ever been.

I find myself saying “yes” to new opportunities more and I want to have new experiences and see things that I have never seen before.  Overall it is the self confidence that the job gave me that makes most ready to tackle college and influence the UCF community.

This self confidence leaves me feeling more mature than ever and as I sit in the same classrooms I can’t help but feel that I have now out grown high school. I have been everywhere I could want to go, met everyone I would want to meet, and I am eagerly anticipating my newest adventures.

If I never lost everything that I was, I never would have become who I am today, and the most important thing I have learned is to have faith and work hard and everything will work itself out.”
© 2013 Ryan Finkelstein

To see how Ryan now expresses his passion for baseball and other sports, visit his site – http://RyanFinkelstein.com

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