Life Lessons Through the Wisdom of Walt Disney by Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn's entry into Varsity Tutor's October 2021 scholarship contest

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Life Lessons Through the Wisdom of Walt Disney by Kaitlyn - October 2021 Scholarship Essay

When I stop to think about someone who I have learned a lesson from, I immediately think about Walt Disney. I have taken countless trips to his theme parks and his work ethic over many generations is evident as you walk around. Walt Disney is famous for his quote, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” This thought transcends my life. October 18, 2019 is a day I will never forget and that would change my life forever. It was State Cup weekend, a weekend my soccer team had been preparing for throughout the season. I went to the field to warm up like I had done ever since I was three years old. During warmup, I heard a pop and knew immediately after that I had seriously injured something in my knee. Being the starting goalkeeper, I felt as though I couldn’t tell anyone about this, so I went on and played all 90 minutes of each of the three games that weekend.
After the last game, I remember feeling pain like I have never felt before. I couldn’t even stand. I went to school that week on crutches. Everyone was coming up to me asking what had happened, and I had no answer for them except that I hurt my knee and heard a pop. After school, I went to the athletic trainer, and she said I most likely tore something and an MRI was needed. The feeling of denial went through my mind. Everything from that day up until the first doctor appointment to the MRI was a blur. I saw visions of never playing soccer again or my dream of playing college soccer all crashing to a halt.
The day of the MRI, I was more scared and nervous than I had ever been in my life. After the MRI was over, the radiologist came out with a paper in his hand. He flipped over the paper and all I saw was a partial tear of anterior cruciate ligament. My heart sank lower than I thought it could ever go. I didn’t know if I would ever again be able to play the game I had loved so much.
After getting fitted for a brace, I was able to try and start “walking” again with the help of crutches. I started physical therapy that week, something that would be one of the hardest and most challenging things throughout my recovery. When I was told that the first session would be learning how to walk, I thought I would never be able to play at the National level like I was before my injury. My second physical therapist was a former college soccer player who had the ability to push me to new levels. The skills and exercises that he taught me have made a major impact on my life.
Over the next six months, I had gone to three doctors, two physical therapists, and had two MRI’s. My recovery was filled with questions, “Should I get surgery?; Should I try stem cell treatment?; Will I ever be back to normal again?” All the doctors agreed to continue the route of avoiding surgery. After months of being behind on milestones and not ever being happy with myself, I had a change of heart. I knew that I needed to work my hardest for myself and my team. After this, I went from being in a wheelchair because of pain to being able to practice soccer again. I learned how hard it is for those with disabilities to do simple daily tasks. In addition, every undertaking in your day takes longer to complete when in a wheelchair.
I had soccer tryouts at my high school the week after I was fully released, and I was so scared I would not make varsity like I had the year prior. I not only made varsity for the second year, but I was also told I would be the starting goalkeeper for the team. I was later offered scholarships from different colleges, something I had dreamt of ever since I fell in love with the sport. I was filled with joy and finally saw that all my hard work had paid off.
I was told at the beginning of my injury that God had a plan for everyone, and I didn’t believe it during my whole recovery process, until many months later. I soon realized that I wanted to become a physical therapist and help more young athletes get through their injuries. My injury, hard work, and eventual recovery is something that has taught me a lot of life lessons as well as changed my career path. I learned from this that God did have a plan and there was a reason for putting me through this injury and recovery process.
If you follow in the thinking of Walt Disney, a challenge is good for you. You may not find that easy to believe especially when you are faced with a difficult situation but my story confirms that a challenge is good for you! I was able to achieve the impossible and have learned so many life lessons along the way. I will continue to study Walt Disney and apply many of his philosophies to my life.