This I Believe

Janell - Vista, California
Entered on May 31, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that my success comes from controlling my initial reactions to life’s challenges.

As a swimmer, I learned to control my reactions to my coaches; swallow my groans, grit my teeth, and mentally prepare myself to be broken if necessary. I lead my team even when I wasn’t the fastest because I tried to never complain. I complete sets and enjoy workouts because I make up my mind to do them completely. I do not cheat. I am competitive in sports in which I am not naturally talented because I have the desire and the drive to succeed.

I have learned to control my reactions to those who have opinions different from my own. Rather than arguing to an impasse, I listen to and respect others’ points of view. I would rather think before I speak than regret a word that too hastily escaped my lips. I would rather enjoy silence than fill the air with useless chatter. I may not agree with your outlook or ideology, but in this country you are free to have your own opinion. I would rather die for this country than see future generations suppressed for speaking their minds.

When I control my initial reactions, I can take every new situation as an opportunity for success. There is never a good excuse to give up. The only way I was able to climb to the top of a rock-wall blindfolded was to persevere, listen to my friend’s directions and focus on the next hold. The only way I was able to get through tough sets in years of club and high school swimming was to start and never quit. If I never let my mind give up, my body will not give up either. If I control my emotions and reactions and choose to have a positive attitude, I can get through the next chapter, the next essay, the next test, the next race, the next practice, the next meeting. There is nothing to stop me from being an effective leader, an admirable military officer, an honorable citizen, a faithful servant, a devoted scholar. When I control my initial reactions to life’s challenges and dedicate myself to the pursuit of my goals, there are no barriers to stop me from being successful.