Dear Amal from the past, 

Life is challenging. It’s full of hardships and mistakes, but some are avoidable. Believe it or not, you’ve made some wrong choices. Everyone does, it’s part of growing up! Plus, “Life’s greatest lessons are usually learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes”.

When I think of something that I could prevent from happening again, I think of early middle school. It was near the end of sixth grade when you got two major knee surgeries to fix your torn ACL and meniscus. It was the usual; I fell while playing a sport and the worst thing possible happened, nothing special. However, in this situation, what was important was listening to your gut and facing your fears. When you fell on that basketball court and then got up, everyone started clapping. There was some sort of invisible pressure to say you’re alright, and that’s what you did. You brushed off the pain, and went back to practice the next week. I know you knew, deep down, that you were not alright. Your knee throbbed tremendously every single day, and that pressure to say you’re fine turned into fear. You were so terrified of what was happening and what could happen, that you pretended it wasn’t happening. 

When you don’t have enough information, or are unwilling to ask for it, things can go wrong. For example, you didn’t know how bad the injury was. All of the information you got was false and misjudged. Whose fault was that? It was yours. You hid the pain and slowly got adjusted to it, meaning you played it down at every single doctor’s appointment. This led to the injury getting worse over the course of 2 months of silence. You never expressed exactly how you were feeling until it was too late. 

That’s what I learned from this. It’s not about getting hurt and never playing basketball again, but it’s about speaking up. I can’t change the outcome of what happened, but now I can try and avoid it happening again. In any situation, if I feel uncomfortable or hurt, then I’m going speak up. I have to be able to use my voice to help myself. Nobody can read my mind, so I have the responsibility of taking care of myself. 

It’s important to acknowledge our past failures and judgments, because those are what push us forward. We are changing every day, learning from every situation and experience we are met with. When we accept the mindset of improving from mistakes, we will be able to overcome any challenge thrown our way. 

Always remember to be confident, curious, and to speak up.


Amal in the present – Walter Payton College Prep