Here is an essay that I worked on as a supplement for a college application. I was rejected from the college on Friday but I’m very proud of this essay and wanted to use it for something. The prompt was: Describe your arch nemesis. 

The War on Gym Class: 2009-2012


Athleticism is a coat that never seemed to fit me right. Sometimes it was too big, sometimes too small, and sometimes I just didn’t want to risk breaking a bone by putting it on. I tried every sport I could think of with only the naivety and optimism of someone who has seen far too many Disney movies about scrawny kids overcoming the odds and winning the gold. With each sport I tried I had a new reason why this one would be the ONE that would work. It dawns on me only now that I searched for a sport with the same vigor some women search for husbands. I figured I’d be great at basketball because I was tall. Excellent at horseback riding because my mother was. Outstanding at ice-skating solely because of the movie Ice Princess. I’m pretty sure at one point I almost even tried fencing. Still, nothing stuck. By age thirteen or fourteen I began to accept that I would never win the big game or be on a cereal box. However, I did not consider the tri weekly encounter I would have to endure with my former infatuation: gym class. And so the combination of my fairly scorched pride and fresh ultimate rejection with my complete lack of coordination and skill lead to my arch nemesis being none other than physical education class itself.

            Before high school I had brushes with the bad times of gym class. It hurt me for the first time in first grade when the teacher asked someone to demonstrate a “roll over.” Finally, little first grade me thought, something I can do. I volunteered because I thought a  “roll over” simply meant rolling over. Turns out it didn’t. Instead it meant doing a “tuck and roll” or a “summersault” which involved kicking your legs over your head and flipping your body. This was something I couldn’t do. As the teacher tried to cajole me into tucking and rolling with reckless abandon, I began to cry with reckless abandon. Strike one, gym class.

            In fourth grade I thought that gym class and I might make up when I finally did not have the lowest push up score of anyone in the class. I beat out one girl and thought that maybe things were turning around. Maybe, I could be a gym class hero after all. But nope because then that girl got to redo her test probably because the gym teachers were so shocked that anyone had scored lower than me. Must have been a fluke, they figured. And apparently they were right because the girl smoked my score the second time around, leaving me as the chagrined loser. And then in seventh grade I got my period for the first time right before gym class and the nurse made me go to class anyways. As the gym teacher yelled at me to run faster and faster around the track and my hormones raged harder and harder and my cramps became more and more uncomfortable I decided that this was strike three.

By the time I entered high school with my sports dreams dashed and my hatred of gym class only heightened, my arch nemesis never seemed more loathsome. Freshman year we survived as enemies like two candidates running for office: civility on the surface and dirty looks when no one was watching. However, by sophomore year with no election to determine a winner or a loser it was clear: we were going to war.

            The gym had size on its side in this battle. With fluorescent lights, beaten down and bruised sports equipment, and gym teachers (and an uncanny amount of gym student teachers) with clipboards as shields and whistles as army calls, this would be no easy defeat. My armor, a crumpled t-shirt and athletic shorts that bunched up around my thighs no matter what size I bought them in, seemed silly and weak in comparison. Still, I was not going to back down easy. I didn’t desire to take down my arch nemesis but only to find peace with it.

I won’t bore you with the details of this battle but rather inform you of only the outcome; after all history is written by the victors, and whether gym class likes it or not, I’ve declared myself as such. But let me inform you of this: it was not a change of situation but rather a change of mind that conquered my enemy. In other words, I simply let it go. I realized I was never going to be good at gym class and that was okay. I realized that I had lots of other talents and that if one of them wasn’t kicking a ball in the right direction, well the earth will keep right on spinning. I realized that I was not the only who hated gym class or who gym class humiliated. I realized that no one cared. I realized that even the varsity athletes resented and were bad at sports that weren’t their own. I realized that at my ten, twenty, or thirty year reunion I wouldn’t be remembered as the girl who sucked so badly at gym class that the teacher once told her a plastic cone would be more of a help to her team than she was. And most of all I realized that even if I was remembered for that I wouldn’t care because the only thing sadder than someone who still shares her gym class horror stories beyond high school is someone who remembers them beyond high school.