“We Should All Learn How To Ride A Bike” Catherine Lavin’s Autobiography
When I was younger, I always believed I wasn’t meant to do big things. I stuck to the back of the room, never speaking or putting myself out there. Most of the time, it took people half the year to even learn my name. It wasn’t until my last year of high school, when I began to write my college essay, that I truly started to find myself. I started thinking about how I never had any motivation for anything that I did, and it was mainly because I never received support for anything I wanted to do.
My senior year English teacher was someone I never expected to inspire me as much as she did. When I was beginning to write my essay, I was stuck. There was something about speaking on my struggles that was so difficult for me to put into words. I tried again and again, paragraph after paragraph to have to right words come across the paper, but nothing ever jumped out to me. I ended up sitting alone in my room thinking about something that made me unique. Some obstacle that I had to face in order to get where I am today. I thought of a lot of educational and community service opportunities I had been a part of, but those topics didn’t feel very “me”. So, not thinking about an essay for college anymore, I ended up writing the first thing that came to my mind. I never learned how to ride a bike. It was strange, yes, but it was just meant to get me writing at least something. Yet, the more I wrote, the more I connected it to everything else in my life. It was a silly topic that turned into how I began to truly express myself. I started thinking about why I never learned such a mundane task. Even when I was little, I could have simply taught myself, but there was something in me that wanted my parents to teach me. It was about watching the kids in the movies, smiling and laughing as their parents ran alongside them until they rode off on their own that I wanted too. That’s where I realized I was different.
I remember when I was just a kid, I used training wheels to get across the cul-de-sac, and my mom and dad watched silently from the window. Some days my mom would offer to ride with me in the park when she felt strong enough, and we would come back past the sunset. But the training wheels never came off. When my mom was finally diagnosed with the terminal diseases that had been haunting her for as long as I could remember, she couldn’t take me out anymore, and my dad still watched through that old window. Often, I would look back at him, make my pouty face, and he would say, “I wish I could do that with you, I really do, but you know I can’t walk.” My dad had been in a car accident 37 years ago that permanently removed motor functions from his left leg. I never saw my parents as disabled, and I never understood why they acted so differently from everyone else’s. I lived one block away from my elementary school, and my dad drove me there every day. My mom waved goodbye from the doorstep and I remember crawling to the backseat to wave back at her. When we turned the block and she disappeared, I saw all the children walking with their parents, jumping and skipping and swinging, but I sat in the car and watched. Even after my mother was diagnosed, she helped me every single day with my homework, but inevitably passed away when I turned ten. When I went into middle school, I was alone, I had to handle all of the petty drama, new thoughts, toxic friendships, and more work than I had ever known by myself. My dad spent all day in his room, barely eating, and I started walking to the library after school, rushing to finish my homework, so that I could try to spend time with him. My grades fell down harshly. I went into high school making a point to turn my life around and make brand new friends. They helped me to see that adversity can lead to great achievements. It wasn’t until the last year of high school that I realized the tragedy that had befallen upon me would soon become one of my greatest motivations in life.
When I finally finished the essay, I felt as though something had been lifted off of my shoulders. I figured out why I had truly lost my motivation for anything, but in that time I rediscovered it.