Asad Mirza: Discipline Through Sorrow

There have been several challenges and hardships throughout my High School that have shaped me into the person I am. Some comprise of heartbreak, some involve failure, and one particular hardship even includes my older sibling’s death. One thing, however, has remained constant. I have always pushed through and come out stronger.

On October 12, 2014, my life changed forever. My older sister, who at the time was a junior at UT Dallas, had an accident. A drunk driver had crashed into her car on the freeway, and she died instantly. The result was a devastated family that was dependent on our extended family’s help for sometime. Multiple visitors, help from family and friends, and thoughts and prayers from close ones has taught me to value family and relationships. Over time, we grew stronger and more independent, although we would never be as whole as we once were.

To cope with this grief, I joined a piano class. My teacher realized I had a talent for music, and within a month I was practicing ‘Fur Elise’, a song usually reserved for those with at least 6 months of training. Within 6 months, I learned how to play ‘Turkish March’, a song regarded by most to be at an advanced level. I practiced for hours every day until I perfected it. Music helped me with relaxation and was a positive outlet.

I also started playing Cricket to help me with my sorrow and grief. It helped me with fitness, discipline and focus. Most importantly, however, it taught me leadership. I was the captain of my team, Texas Cricket Academy. Leading my team taught me how to work with others, and get the best out of my teammates. I led my team to several tournament victories and trophies. If we lost a game, I would gather my team together, and go over our performance, and analyze every detail. We would then develop strategies to correct our mistakes. I learned what it takes to be a leader, take charge of my team, and motivate them.

I have been practicing Taekwondo for the last 9 years. I am now a 3rd degree Black Belt and a 3rd Level Instructor, and a National Level Referee and Judge (sparring). Taekwondo has been instrumental in instilling values of self-discipline, ethics, integrity and honor. My instructors were my role models, and taught me how to follow rules and the reasoning behind them. However, the journey was far from smooth. I failed several times in Taekwondo competitions. Failures taught me to analyze my mistakes, and learn from them. After I failed my 3rd degree test in September 2018. I worked harder than ever, practicing my form and kicks, and breaking boards. At the next national level testing in June 2019, I succeeded in getting my 3rd degree Black Belt. Rising from failure and learning from mistakes – both very valuable lessons. I have also been teaching Taekwondo for the last 5 years. Teaching has taught me patience and techniques to approach different students differently. Not everyone learns the same way and at the same pace.

My biggest recent challenge was my younger sister’s massive open heart surgery in January 2019. This took quite an emotional toll on us. This was her 4th such surgery. Our family came from India, Connecticut, and Chicago to help us. The pre-surgery period was very difficult, with my sister’s deteriorating health and repeated check-ups. I have since become more empathetic and compassionate towards my whole family. I also highly respect the surgeon and entire team who performed her surgery, and nurses who helped throughout the process. Her fight to survive and endure pain has made me value each day of life more than the day before.

All these challenges and the methods by which I coped have helped balance my life with successes and failures, and kept my feet on the ground while remaining focused. I have learned valuable lessons which have shaped me into the person that I am. However, my journey doesn’t end here. Every day is a new challenge I hope to learn from, so I can become a wiser, kinder, and stronger individual.

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