As a child, I was active. I loved to play with my neighbours in my close-nit Ontario city. We used to meet up and play hide-and-seek, go biking, or do whatever else we felt. Yet, we always shared and chose our activities together. Apart from regular leisurely activities, I was also playing hockey (after all, I am named after Cameron Neely). My dad loved hockey, so he wanted me to love it as well. Unfortunately, his dream of me becoming an all-star hockey player like Cam Neely fell short. He passed away suddenly due to a heart aneurism at a young age. At the time, being five years old, I didn’t understand how this would affect my life. Fortunately for me, my mother is amazing and kept up with her responsibilities as a parent. However, without a father figure, I did lose the competitive and aggressive influence. Thus, when I moved to Alberta, I didn’t really stick with hockey. Instead, I focused my energy on video games and as a result I became quite overweight. My classmates bullied me for it. Instead of talking to my mom about it, I let the sadness engulf me, I thought I was worthless, like I didn’t matter to the world. At 8 years old, the thoughts that I had were extremely dark, and eventually it led me to the one and only fight I have ever been in. A boy by the name of Cody, was making fun of the fact that I couldn’t run very fast. I channeled all of my anger, and punched him as hard as I could in the face and knocked him to the ground. After that, the remainder of my grade 2 year was confined to the cement bench for recess and lunch. To worsen things, the subsequent year, I had a teacher that I hated with a passion. She thought that I was challenged mentally. While, yes, I do struggle with mild anxiety at times, the processing and capacity of my mental abilities are more than adequate in an educational environment. She called my mom and I into the school to express concern that I was going to fail grade 3 and have to repeat (apparently that is a thing in Alberta). To combat this issue, my mom hastily invested in a tutor that I saw every day. The surprising thing though, was that the tutor wrote a detailed report about my performance, and according to her, I was performing above average.

 

Alberta was a place that lowered my self-esteem to the point that these memories still resonate with me today. After a year and half in Alberta, my mom, my brother and I moved to Penticton, British Columbia, where I was astounded with how kind everyone was. I was greeted with open arms from all the children in my grade 4 class, many of them still good friends to this day. However, the one thing that still discouraged me was my weight. I wasn’t able to run as hard or as long as all the other children. Regardless, the atmosphere the children and my peers set for me drove me to try all sports the school offered. I was on the cross country, basketball, volley ball, tennis and high jump team. As well, I played many active games during recess and lunch. The one I loved the most was calledkatakiller; which is a game that is similar to tag, but allowed a life and safety system. It added an element of tactical thought to the game. Over time, I was getting better at running, but my lifestyle habits attained from my depressive Alberta-self still hindered me. I was a lot happier though. I loved where I lived now. My physical activity was slowly improving my life, until middle school came, that is. A new variable had been emphasized in the sports I was playing: competition. Competition became the norm. This led to sports becoming more violent and less-fun in my opinion. I loved sports for the tactical, team-building and fun elements. The competitive nature didn’t really sit well with me. So, just like in Alberta, I resorted back to video games. I played several online computer games with one of my friends all the way until grade 11. This was a huge part of my life that I regret doing. I missed out on both academic and physical experiences because I let video games rule my life.

 

However, I found something in grade 11 that I thought was fun and yet not very competitive: weight training. I fell in love with it. I couldn’t believe it, actually. The idea that a person could isolate a movement pattern, add resistance, and improve that movement, was fascinating. In my spare time I started to do my own research on different elements of fitness. I read about the different macronutrients, micronutrients, essential amino acids, and the quantity of different essential things the body needed to perform optimally. On all of these topics, and more, I started to dive into the research world and I began to appreciate the quantitative approach and scientific method. At the start of grade 12 I decided that I wanted to change my body, so I entered a weight loss competition and ended up finishing fourth overall and first in my age range. I didn’t have a ton to lose in comparison to many of the other people, but I shredded myself down, which I thought was impossible for myself to achieve. This was the beginning for me. The time when I should have realized what my passions were, which were fitness and health. However, it didn’t quite click in, and I spent 2 years of university with goals of becoming an engineer, computer scientist, and a neuroscientist, all at different points within that 2 year period, but finally, I settled on exercise science. I don’t know how it took me so long to figure it out, but I am extremely happy I did. I am now a personal trainer and train privately which I love doing. I use it currently as an experience to pass on a passion, and to motivate people to live healthy lifestyles.

 

Without the events that took place in my life, whether good or bad, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Without them I would be a completely different person, have different values, and potentially different passions. My path has directed me here, to a world where I value health, fitness and psychological well-being. Everyone has a reason they were put on this earth. Rather than letting traumatic events consume us, maybe the answer is to capitalize on the events; after time has passed of course. The first step though, is the willingness to see terrible events for the better and capture the light out of every dark corner.