When I was 11 years old, I awoke to my mom's panic, soon to be followed by paramedics entering our house. She told me my dad was having chest pains---but not to worry, because it wasn't necessarily serious. Of course I worried. Worrying is what I do. We found out later that day that my dad had a near complete blockage in what's often nicknamed the widow-maker artery. A stent was inserted in the artery almost immediately upon arrival to the hospital.
It was a Monday morning---the statistically most common day and time to have a heart attack. I elected to go to school instead of stay home. I'm someone who likes to be busy when tragedy strikes. In fact, I'll do anything "productive" to keep my mind off of what's happening.
So, there I was. Still taking my sixth grade U.S. History exam as if nothing was wrong.
A few days later, my dad was released from the hospital with a slew of medications. He couldn't walk very far without needing to sit down. A lot of the details around this time in my life are slightly blurred, but I do remember my dad had regular physical rehabilitation at the hospital. Soon, he began to run short distances on his own. He recorded every calorie and ounce of saturated fat in his diet and began to work on stress-management.
In a short span of time, he lost well over a hundred pounds and was running ultra-marathons. The medical workers in the rehabilitation center regarded him as "the poster boy" of what to do after a heart attack.
Seeing my dad change his life has taught me that there are no excuses for giving up. It doesn't matter if you are literally on your death bed. You always have another day to fight for. As someone who's struggled with mental health issues over the years, this brought great meaning to me. There have been days in my life where I couldn't see the purpose of waking up another day, but remembering my dad's story has always proved me wrong.
Additionally, I've learned there's nothing that should hold you back. If you told someone morbidly unhealthy that they would run a marathon in a couple of years, would they believe you? Probably not. But it has happened. So, I'm here to tell you: whatever grad school, job, or life you want, it's possible no matter where you are now. The key is not giving up in this moment.
If life is one big boxing ring full of painful punches and obstacles, you must fight once you're in the ring. There's no promise of tomorrow, so do what you can with today. That way if tomorrow comes, it will be even better.