Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Teen Essay Contest in May 2014

Theme: Inspire Myself, Motivate Others
The Second Place Winner: Connie Yu
Lowell High School

Mulan never surrendered, so neither would I.
That simple statement provided motivation for my ten-year-old self as she continually attempted to best her older brother in a race to the top of the local park's hill. Admittedly, I didn't beat my brother that day, or even in the most subsequent attempts during subsequent years. However, my persistence  in following the footsteps of my role model, introduced to me in the form of Disney's Mulan by Russell Schroeder, remains with me to this day as I continually challenge myself to attempt even greater feats.
For some people, reading is a chore, an enforced duty requiring teachers and deadlines. But as demonstrated above, I see books as an integral part of my identity. They are the inspiration that stimulates my confidence and guides my decision throughout the twists and turns of life. On one level, books allow me to accept missions as an M16 operative, ride a Nimbus 2000 as a Seeker for the Golden Snitch, and beseech the Oracle of Delphi for guidance in seemingly impossible tasks. Beyond that incredible effects lies yet another surprise: the immense power to instruct and inspire. Thwarting criminals with Alex Rider showed me the importance of confidence, as most of his accomplishments would have been close to impossible had he lacked faith in his capabilities. Soaring through the air with Harry Potter demonstrated the strength of friendship, for his battle against Voldemort required his friends' help along each step of the way. Traveling to Delphi with various Greek heroes illustrated that even the best occasionally need to swallow their pride and ask for aid.
In this way, books were the foundation of my childhood, and the library that housed them was my go-to getaway. Books' settings were the places that I accessed whenever I sought advice or even a temporary escape route from the world around me. My adventurous half thrived in the creativity that captivated my thoughts and engaged my mind in an electrifying mixture of characters and plots. I found wellsprings of inspiration wherever I looked, whether the book were about the Magic School Bus or Katniss Everdeen. Strong characters, particularly heroines like Mulan and Katniss, never failed to strengthen my resolve whenever I was in need of courage; my struggles seemed trifling and manageable in the face of those individuals' hardships. As I traced the footsteps of countless protagonists, I even uncovered lessons about success and failure applicable to my own life. Greek myths exposed me to the dangers of pride, Shakespeare's plays warned me about unintended outcomes, and shaped by examples such as these, I have become more conscious individual, making careful decisions after thoroughly weighing the consequences.
Tales have always been my tools for motivating myself; after all, if Hercules could refuse to despair upon hearing about his twelve upcoming labors, I too could certainly refuse to despair upon hearing about my twelve upcoming tests. In a similar way, I use my own story to inspire the people around me, in both academics and athletics. As a a former student of the elementary school where I tutor, I completely understand the complaints of my tutees about the rigors of their science assignments and confusion regarding rounding rules, and this understanding is one that I strategically exploit. It is this understanding that provides me with the ability empathize with my students as I remember my own personal plight, my own personal story. With this insight I am able to pinpoint sources of their distress and suggest possible solutions for working around them. Personal experiences in mind, I persuade Eric to bear with my endless multiplication drills and show Reyna that multiplying fractions is far easier than her exaggerated grumbles may suggest, and my efforts are frequently rewarded with the brilliant beam of a pleased fifth grader displaying a satisfying test score.
A similar method is applicable even for my athletic life. Track and field and I began our relationship as mere strangers, for not only was I behind other sophomores who had joined as freshman the previous year, but I was also the only one to lack middle school athletic experience. However, I channeled my inner Mulan yet again, resolving to continue my commitment and suppressing the siren's call of quitting even when the full-body soreness became routine and shin splints afflicted every step. After seasons of the relationship, I have learned to love the euphoria of physical achievement as the hours I devote become fractions of seconds shaved off personal records. By the end of my first season, I had chipped eight seconds off my 400 meter time alone, and while I visited the podium four times during city championships, the medals meant more than just the physical accomplishment during races; they represented my mental will throughout the season to excel and reach ever greater levels of proficiency.
This is my story that I share with incoming runners, the story with the ability to inspire their self-confidence and fervent efforts toward continual improvement. After all, if I could overcome the odds stacked against me and have my efforts be repaid in dividends, surely they could achieve their goals as well- provided that they continually dedicate hours to daily practice, of course. Stretching tips for injury prevention, encouragements when runners feel absolutely exhausted- I offer all my services to anyone who asks. Yet even so, I find that sharing my personal experiences is the most effective way to provide others with a surge of self-confidence and encouragement to complete the next workout, race, and challenge.
To any who downplay the significance of books or ridicule them for being just trivial outlets during leisure, I point to the profound effects that books have played in my life. My personality would certainly be different had I not met Mulan; her bravery is a source of inspiration throughout many of my endeavors in life thus far. In addition, egotistic as this may sound, I feel inclined to believe that Eric will be thankful for my drills in basic multiplication as he continues onto middle school mathematics- just like I was grateful for my mother's ceaseless firing of multiplication problems. I firmly believe in stories' ability to inspire me and motivate others. Even as I type this essay, I hope to share my experiences and thereby continue inspiring others, one story at a time.

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