Fight or Flight

Tell about an experience that has changed how you view the world.

I was thirteen, chubby, and small. It was late and it was raining, and I needed to run to the grocery store to get some oven cleaner so my dad could surprise my mom when she came home. I was stopped from completing my honorable task by a guy on a bike and his girlfriend. He wanted my umbrella. Well, I needed the umbrella too, so I just ran into the store. He remained outside, and I knew I was dead if I left that store. I ended up making my escape through the back of the store, walking nonchalantly out of the next-door Laundromat. I ran home swept in fear, chagrined to the core: I let some no-good punk scare me to death, make me jump a fence in the back of a store, and lose my umbrella in the midst of it all.

I joined the closest karate school the next day. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made. At first I only wanted to learn self-defense, so I wouldn’t have to subjugate myself to such demeaning treatment ever again. But my studies of martial arts over the next four and a half years led to so much more than that. I was introduced to a great set of people, and made friendships that spanned beyond the kinship of karate. As I rose through the ranks, my confidence rose, too. I became secure not only in my ability to...

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