Jordan Gilligan, Columnist

One of the hardest things to do is to keep doing what you love despite the lack of support you receive. Perseverance is a quality not every person naturally possesses. Most of the time it’s a skill that requires experience in order to develop.

People will look you in the face and tell you that you are never going to be good enough. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, it probably will at some point in your life. It’s already happened to me plenty of times. Hate and negativity is something we all experience in one way or another.

I have had my fair share of negative people. I’ve been riding horses for 14 years, and I have had coaches who didn’t care or tried to put me down. When I was 16, I had a coach that told me, “I hope you fall off in front of everyone so I can say I told you so.”

Coaches are not just supposed to teach you physical skills but also life skills. They are supposed to be your motivation and your reason to succeed. I had to learn quickly to be my own life coach. When these remarks would be said to me, I just brought home another blue ribbon to prove again, over and over, that they were wrong about me.

Building this extra tough skin was the hardest process to go through. Everyone goes through a stage where they have to endure the words that tighten their throats and bring tears to their eyes.

It’s the people that continue forward despite the hurt that succeed in the end. People either teach themselves to be their own life coaches, or they lean on the person they trust the most. My dad was my life coach. He was at every competition and every award ceremony. He was my inspiration and my rock. The day he decided to never come back home was the day I realized I needed to be strong all on my own.   

To the women reading this, no man can break your heart more than your own dad. My dad left a year and a half ago. He packed up and decided the girlfriend in California was worth more than his wife and children. My life coach taught me what corruption was, and what too much power can do to the human soul. I guess even though he is absent from my life, he is teaching me life lessons about what to do when the one person you trusted abandoned you.

The greatest life lesson I learned was my dad failed to show what love was in the midst of a depression. We all like to think we know what it means to be in love, or to truly and deeply feel love. Some say love is a physical feeling, some say it’s emotional. I say love is an action.

My father said he loved me, but his heart belonged to money and power. This is called superficial love. It’s fake, temporary happiness. This is what my father taught me in my 19 years of life. He showed me superficial love. And because of it I’m stronger and better from it.

The hardest thing in the world is saying goodbye to the ones you loved. No, my father is not dead, but he might as well be. I will persevere without him. His words of verbal and emotional abuse will never keep me down. I’m standing here today, a student at one amazing university I worked to get into all by myself. I will stand at the end. I will persevere.

Stand for what you love, despite the hate. Know that the power of love can bring you to do things you never imagined. This small part of my story is what keeps me going. It’s my motivation to grow to my full potential. At the end of the day everything I do is for myself. Not to impress my family or my friends, but for only me.