The Bricks in My Backpack By Dominique Losen Age 18

I have a backpack of bricks. Everyone has their own. People might say that a backpack of bricks can wear you down, but mine lifts me up. I was born with major heart problems and congenital scoliosis. As a baby in very critical condition, I had a series of open-heart surgeries from the time I was an infant to the age of two. So far I have had thirteen surgeries because of my cardiac condition and scoliosis. These experiences are the “bricks in my backpack.” My backpack also gives me a place to put many qualities such as love, compassion, empathy, and especially strength and resilience.

Each needle prick I have received has given me strength and resilience. For example, at the end of the summer going into Sophomore year I had a full spinal fusion and returned to my second year of high school two weeks after the start of classes. The acting troupe that I had been a part of and passionate about since I started at my school was well on their way with rehearsals for the newest play. Between catching up with my classes and strengthening friendships I nearly had no time to practice my acting performance. I had to just keep marching forward with a positive attitude, learn my lines and rehearse. I pushed myself to rebound from my two week absence so that I would perform well on stage. When the day of the show came, after many hours of rehearsal, I went on the stage and poured out all of my passion for performing to the audience. I believe that this situation showed my resilience, because I refused to let the surgery slow down the goals I have set for myself.

My life’s adversities have taught me to never give up. Had I not chosen to fight through the pain and get out of bed shortly after my spinal fusion, it would have taken me much longer to recover. This “not-giving-up” quality has manifested itself throughout my entire life. During my Junior year in school, I had a lot of trouble reaching my goal of getting an A in history. Not a day passed by when I didn’t do something that would help me reach this goal. I needed to seek my teachers for help on my assignments. For every test I would start preparing a week in advance. I rewrote every essay a thousand times until it was perfect. After doing all of these things for a couple months, my grade started to improve and eventually I got an A as my final grade. Not giving up and always reaching for what I want is more than just accomplishing a goal – it is the way I live my life.

I am thankful for my health problems, my many surgeries and hospital stays. Without these experiences I would not have the same view of the world – I would not be the same. Yes, it is true that thirteen surgeries are no fun; nor are endless amount of doctor appointments; but regardless, without these adversities my backpack would not be filled with all my glorious bricks. Bricks that could weigh one down, but in my case will help build a pedestal. One that lifts me high enough to achieve my goals and supports me through any future storms; and for that I am grateful.

One day I wish to create my own foundation for congenital heart defects to raise awareness and money for research.

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