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The Sentiments of A Student

Mark Din



The Sentiments of A Student

Death is something that affects us all, yet none of us expect it, even though it is clearly inevitable. The chaos, disruption that came from my father’s diagnosis of cancer, and his eventual passing, changed my life irreversibly. My father’s illness led to him enrolling my sister and I in a homeschool program in an effort to spend his last years with his children, and to at least get his children through high school. Unfortunately, things go as planned, and he passed away sooner than the doctors projected. My mother managed to find groups within our community and family members who also homeschooled to keep me from being forced to change schools again, thus I remained homeschooled all throughout middle school, and partially through high school.

Virtually left to my own devices, I forged my identity and my worldview in a way dissimilar to everyone else around my age. The amalgamation of all the emotions related to the trauma of losing my father, the solitude of my school environment, alongside the uncertainty and confusion associated with growth during preteen years led to a downward spiral. One might wonder “What is it that saved you?”. The most unlikely candidate and the only remnant of my elementary school left in my mind: Taekwondo. Yes, the Korean martial art that so many of my friends back in elementary school had started learning. Taekwondo became my outlet. In time, however, it grew to become so much more than a mere outlet for the angst of a teenager. Much of my identity was forged in the Dojang (a formal training hall for martial arts). While reminiscing of the past, I often find myself assessing the accuracy of the idea that much of our personality is in fact, created by our environments, also known as the psychological theory of

situationism. In my case, the most prominent environments in my life were my home, and my “home away from home”, so to speak: my Dojang.

My years at the aforementioned Dojang ingrained within me the propensity to say “yes sir” or “yes ma’am. I learned how to follow instructions, and also give how to them. A sliver of order was established in my otherwise chaotic life. Anecdotally, I can recall multiple occasions where mental discipline I learned was more important than physical strength I gained. When I was giving a speech for the first time in front of more than 100 classmates, I remembered the time I participated in a martial arts demonstration in front of thousands of people. Whenever I became exhausted with the amount of stress and work that is part and parcel of a Collegiate Highschool program, I would relive my past experiences, experiences from my tenure as an instructor that taught me both hard skills and soft skills. I discovered that teaching others is the best way to learn, a concept that many people go their whole lives without grasping.

Martial Arts has become a fundamental pillar of my character and has allowed me to persevere through everything life has thrown at me. Thoroughly entrenched in my mind is the constant inner dialogue of “This is nothing; I have been through worse.” Taekwondo has in no small measure carried me throughout my educational career thus far. The plethora of ways that it has positively impacted my life due to simple ideas such as self-control, confidence, and respect, are infinitely worth more than medals and knowledge of self-defense.

I hold few people in the same regard as that I hold Daniel Lee, my master and mentor, and one of the most influential people in my life. Master Daniel once explained to my class an analogy. He said we must be like the palm tree, the most resilient of all trees. The tree that can use its greatest advantage, (in the tree’s case its flexibility, useful for enduring a hurricane) to

further itself and survive. In this analogy, the hurricane is simply life itself, with its cyclonic gales being the obstructions and hardships in life. I am the palm tree. As the palm tree in this metaphor, I use my training and past experiences to surmount any adversity, fatigue, or interference I have come upon.
Posted on 11/12/2021 at 01:11 AM , Edited on 11/12/2021 at 01:11 AM
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