When she was at her lowest, rowing lifted her up

She sat in Algebra feeling dejected. She focused on math, solving every problem correctly to keep her mind off her thoughts. She didn’t let anybody in. Nobody knew how she felt. She wished they did.

She sat in Choir and felt despondent. She felt left out, unnecessary, nothing. She felt nothing. She was numb to the feelings that surrounded her, knowing that if she allowed herself to feel, her life would spiral out of control. She couldn’t let that happen.

She sat in Economics and struggled to focus on the lesson being taught. She didn’t care about the demand curve or the opportunity cost. But, she cared about her grades, so she tried to pay attention and learn, no matter what she felt.

In every class, she felt the pain that broken friendships, decreasing GPAs, and not knowing brought. She felt it in her bones, in her head, and in her heart. She believed nothing would take that pain away.

But she found a spark, an inkling of hope in that seat, on that boat, in that water. The seat that she will always think of as hers no matter how many other people sit there. The boat that holds the memories she will cherish forever. The river brings her peace and takes away the pain.

She found the people that make her happier than she could ever have imagined. The friends that will always know everything about her. The team that will hold her up and love her no matter what.

But she found a spark, an inkling of hope in that seat, on that boat, in that water.

— Alex Smith

She knows that these people will always be there, and they will never let her be sad or alone. They will hug her and make her laugh. They refuse to let her spiral down. They refuse to let her feel anything but joy and happiness.

The only pain she feels now is the rewarding kind after a grueling practice. Her sore legs prove that she loves her team and her sport, and she will push with everything she has for them.

But that happiness, that comfort, that home is ripped away from her at the end of the season. She believes she has nothing to look forward to. There is no practice to keep her occupied and no team to keep her going. She fears those friendships she thought would last forever are going to dwindle into a text sent every few months.

She doesn’t want to go back to the sadness she used to feel. She wants to be happy because it feels so good. She wants her team, her practices, and her friends.

She quickly realizes that no matter how long it is until the next season starts, no matter how many times they see each other, her team is a team, and they will stick together. They will text often, lift each other up, and be home together.

Now, she sits in Algebra with her newfound friend, doing the problems because she wants to, not because she needs to distract herself.

She sits in choir next to a girl she never would have talked to if they weren’t on the same team, and she enjoys being there, in that moment. She is happy—happier than she remembers being in a long time.

She sits in Economics, and she still has to struggle to focus, but not because of the negative thoughts floating around in her head. Just because she is bored. It feels so good to be happy.

Her team will forever be her team, her sport forever her sport, and her boat forever her boat. That seat in that boat on that river will always be where she is the happiest. 

She knows that, eventually, the happiness will dwindle, and she won’t be as happy as she is now, but knowing that she has her team—and always will—makes her hopeful for everything to come.