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The LEAP Student Blog

'Embrace the Struggle' by Luka Kawahara, Juanita HS
 2/16/2023 12:00:00 AM

Luka Kawahara
Juanita High School, Class of 2024

My peaceful slumber is disrupted by a sound nobody can stand, the iPhone alarm.  I get up with every single bit of my strength and willpower, while my clingy blanket tries to hold me down, drowning me in its comfort and warmth. It’s 5:25 AM. 

6:45 AM now, and I am gasping for air. “One more round, keep moving!” My coach yells and cheers me on as I finish up what I think is the hardest conditioning workout of my life, but I always change my mind on the next session, because it is somehow even more grueling.

After ten million burpees, twenty million sprints, and zero breaks, the final timer goes off signaling my freedom from my anaerobic environment. My body becomes one of those action figures that always collapses, no matter how hard you try to make it stand up. I cannot lay still. The lactic acid buildup has me rolling around in pain, there’s no escape from the burning sensation scorching my entire body.

I finally recover from my dramatic state, and rush back to my car as I check the time. 7:05 AM. I have to get to school.

I started my arduous journey of working out with my strength and conditioning coach every morning during the summer after 8th grade. It has changed my life. Facing a challenge like an early morning workout has improved my mindset greatly, and I want to share its benefits. Challenging yourself can be done in many ways, and it does not have to be through exercise. Being comfortable in a state of discomfort sparks a change in perspective, and it builds valuable traits such as discipline and mental toughness.

“Once this is over, the rest is easy.” This type of outlook on challenges has been observed throughout history, in both Western and Eastern philosophy. Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius once stated: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Aurelius points out that the obstacles people face are necessary for them to advance.  Yin and Yang, a Chinese philosophical concept, also connects to this perspective on hardships. Yin and Yang describes the duality of opposite but interconnected forces. Shadows cannot exist without light. Applying similar logic, after I finish a punishing workout in the morning, the rest of my day feels trouble-free. I can face obstacles throughout my day with a positive outlook, knowing that it cannot get as brutal as my morning.

Facing challenges head-on also builds valuable mental traits. It requires discipline to face and conquer an obstacle, knowing that it will be onerous. It is hard to commit to something you know will be difficult. However, the rewarding feeling of finishing a demanding task is unparalleled. Self confidence and mental toughness are achieved through a battle with discipline.

I encourage everybody to step outside of their safe space regularly. Something as simple as an early morning workout altered my frame of mind significantly. I have realized that I now look forward to every workout, every challenge, as an opportunity to better myself. An effortless lifestyle filled solely with indulgence and pleasure is unrealistic. How can there be good times without some hard times?

From: Carl Saxon 2/16/2023 11:56 PM

Very well written article

From: Michael Brandenburg 2/17/2023 9:32 AM

I am so proud and excited to know this young man, he is one of my most favorite people in the world. His attitude towards life is awesome. It is my honor to know him and call him a friend/family/brother. Luka, may you be blessed in everything you do as you bless others with your words, actions and presence. I have nothing but love for you. You make me want to be a better Coach. ????

From: Ayden Mooney 2/17/2023 9:46 AM

Luka is one of the most inspirational people I know and he inspires everyone to be a better person. Always leading by example. As a teammate, me and so many others are lucky to have him as a leading example and I hope he knows how proud everyone is! GREAT JOB LUKA!!!!

From: Steve Troy 2/17/2023 10:05 AM

This young man is amazing. I've watched him progress over the years and its unreal what he has accomplished in every aspect of his life. His last paragraph in this article are words to live by. I will start today

From: Erick Jaimes 2/17/2023 1:53 PM

Luka has incredible work ethic and mentality, doesn't give up and does his best, very humble and calm individual, Luka is the goat

From: Juli Hynden 2/24/2023 12:46 PM

This is wonderful! Great job Luka!!!
Mrs. Hynden

From: Laurie Chesley 2/24/2023 1:21 PM

Luka! You are an INSPIRATION!!!
Ms. Chesley

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February 2023

2/16/2023 'Embrace the Struggle' by Luka Kawahara, Juanita HS

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