I’ve been working on this all week and just decided it will serve the dual purpose as my essay for English and my blog post this week. Sorry, it’s not finished or very fun and interesting.
There is thrill and venture in every sunrise. Every day is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to soak up the lesson to be had in every moment. My parents often refer to me as “wise beyond my years”. A phrase they explain to me as a blessing and a curse; concerned I’m going to wish away my high school years by always living in a realm outside my peers. As with many things, I see it different. I don’t believe in the correlation between age and wisdom. It is the experience accompanied with age which gives you wisdom. Not that I feel as though I have undergone an immense amount of poignant and difficult life experience, I am very lucky to have been blessed with a financially comfortable childhood. Therefore, it is arguable that a life of privilege lacks depth and struggle. A claim I wouldn’t have debated a year ago. There wasn’t a pivotal event or hardship but I do distinctly recollect this past summer: I met someone who judging solely on my upbringing expected me to display entitled tendencies, lack world experience, and appreciation of culture. Fortunately, I was able to disprove his preconception. However, this stereotype not only made me question myself but what I was surrounded by. I have had this feeling many times before; the constant need to prove that I am not ignorant and or conceited, as a product of my untroubled upbringing in Terrace Park also called “the bubble”. A safe, nurturing, successful bubble. A capsulating, image-driven, pressure-filled, bubble. Which enforces the suffocating expectation and cookie cutter ideal of a pristine Mariemont student. It suffocates creativity, individuality, and appreciation for diversity. That is an unfair conjecture to make of all the students and staff here because it is simply not true. It is just someone who values those things will be an outcast in this atmosphere. Often feeling out of place at Mariemont it took me awhile to realize that receiving criticism for doing things differently doesn’t always mean you’re doing it wrong.
Criticism is something easily avoidable by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. Letting yourself get caught up in either praise or criticism can be detrimental. Harmful and passive words only reflect poorly and signal insecurity and jealousy in those who are voicing them. Never let hateful words of a person who doesn’t truly know you go to heart. You never completely know all the struggles someone is wrestling with. Especially here, it is hard to comprehend that even in an upper-middle-class suburb, adults and teenagers alike, bare heavy and dark burdens that are completely invisible on the surface. Depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, physical and mental abuse, eating disorders, financial struggle, self-harm, divorce, unemployment, heartbreak, etc. The adversity that can only be seen by investing in people, and digging past that surface level friendship.
Vulnerability with the right people will not only help you form more meaningful relationship but awareness of human instinct, emotion, and motive. These struggles that may be viewed as weakness and vulnerability are difficult to encounter at Mariemont. Not because they don’t exist but because “failure” and pain isn’t “cool” or acceptable in a place where such high achievement is glorified. The Mariemont mantra, “be better” embodies it all. Always push to be a better student, athlete, friend, citizen, daughter, son, etc. Always more, more, more; what you are isn’t enough, be better. I understand that isn’t the intent of the slogan, however, it is the reality. And if we are in reality, then it’s impossible to excel in every field of life, so why is that the expectation.
For the majority of my sophomore year I let that implicit expectation and negative words of others consume me. I was constantly anxious and concerned with my peers conception of me. I was drowning in denial of my returning eat disorders and pure unhappiness. I let the fact that one boy didn’t want me cause me to view myself as worthless. I struggled to outwardly express my extreme feeling of guilt when I almost killed my two friends in an intense car wreck due to my error. All of which led to a follow up of bad decisions and rebellion. Even though that was only a year ago, it feels so distant to me. When writing and discussing those events in which I rarely do, it feel as though I am explaining someone else’s past. Even though it saddens me to recollect on who I was, I don’t regret a second. When reflecting on the last couple years I finally can see clearly why God put certain people and events in my life and lead me to such great friends, future, and happiness that I am experiencing now. As a result, I am extremely grateful for those people and experiences who aided in me discovering my passion for art. Which in many forms has changed my life. It brings me so much joy while helping me comprehend my emotions and providing a medium for my voice. Not only that but it has changed the trajectory of my plans for the future. My life goal/dream is to provide a space for underprivileged kids to gather, create, and enjoy art in a safe environment. I envision a large warehouse house with white walls ready to be cover in art. Somewhere for inner-city kids to get off the streets or poor family environments and collaborate in a healthy form of self-expression. Also for them to have any kind of art or digital supplies they need at their fingertips to create what they desire. The idea of learning, self-growth and having a beneficial impact of others is what gets me through my hardship by providing a positive concept to throw my energy and thoughts towards.
Since this epiphany, I have made a strong effort to break the bubble, by immersing myself in people with differentiating perspectives. Experiencing people’s struggle and life situations, that I am blessed not to endure but fortunate to be able to gain knowledge and provide empathy through their hardship. I will never understand what it is like to have a mother with cancer or a father in jail for murder, but I am capable of opening up my eyes and heart to appreciate all I’m given and help others see the beauty to be found in the struggle.
That beauty is the knowledge, strength, self-growth, empathy, and passion. The ideals that shape your beliefs. This I believe.
I believe in the hard conversations, that hurt, that stings the soul. Because shying away from fears will never solve them. Encapsulating insecurities will never offer any restoration. Voice will only carry power when it is carried in honesty. In order to maintain meaningful relations, we must let go of ego and embrace vulnerability with others. Speak up about our feelings, speak out against injustice. History defines for us: action advocates change. “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” – Nora Roberts
Power of passion
An ambitious life driven by passion; is living a life supplied with boundless energy. Passion is humans greatest motivator. Motivation is quentiencal to achieving dreams. I have been diagnosed with ADHD but the second I engage in art my focus is remarkably strong. From my experience, the power of passion medicates better than any prescription drug. Discover what you love; what your energy doesn’t run dry for and you can achieve great things.
After writing that section I searched for a quote to support my belief. I then came across a quote from American philosopher and transcendentalist thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson. His words almost directly parallel my beliefs but instead interchanging the word passion with enthusiasm. “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
There is a great deal of truth to be found in the adage “no risk no reward”. Whether it is the satisfaction engaging in conversation with someone you’ve never talked to or volunteering in an underprivileged area. Or maybe something bigger like deciding to become an exchange student or backpacking across the country. All of which takes bravery and a little bit of confidence, but life is too short to just be comfortable. A wise man once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. It’s important to challenge yourself by willingly placing yourself into situations you aren’t accustomed to. It can lead to self-growth and even possibly discover a passion.
I value the capability to make individual decisions and choose your own path. God gave humans free will, that is why not everything is purely good. I believe God is all powerful but contrary to most Christians I do not believe he has our whole life planned. The bible says we have free will, and having a predetermined life contradicts that conviction. God has the ability to control and force people to follow him but if he were to do so that wouldn’t be faith. When people ask me I explain it as God gave us “democracy” not a “strict dictatorship”; we have the freedom to form our own destiny, whether it is the satisfactory and joyous plan he has laid out for us, or creating a dissatisfying life formed of societies terms, it is completely up to us. I believe that without free will our purpose as humans is nullified.
Overall, after these past seventeen very formative years I will continue to grow and long for wisdom in each day. Hopefully, I will never forget to speak up, take risks, possess passion and value the gift of free will.