This I Believe

Karley - Bloomington, Illinois
Entered on February 26, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe a person must be happy to be successful and happiness is measured internally, not by the amount of awards, trophies, or certificates achieved or by what other people think. For the years leading up until now I placed more emphasis on achieving honor roll certificates, winning athletic awards, or participating in something to please other people rather than for the intrinsic enjoyment and value.

I began playing softball at the age of seven, after being a spectator at my four older siblings’ athletic activities for all those years. I had no idea of what competitive softball would be like, but I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I had a grasp on the concept of playing sports for enjoyment, but mostly, I played to keep the tradition alive and be as good as all of them were becoming. They won numerous MVP and all star awards as well as countless academic awards. Because I looked up to them, I placed a high value on those tangible objects.

As I look back on my years of playing softball, I’m not sure I enjoyed the game because I was simply an average player. I did not have super fast speed, power hitting, a great arm, or spectacular catches. Without the touchable things, like good batting statistics or fielding percentages, I was a player that sometimes played and sometimes didn’t. While many of my teammates received all tournament team player awards or hitting derby champ, I was there, cheering my teammates on hoping to make the most of any chance I got. I continued playing softball and learned that I was the type of player that plays more for the enjoyment of being involved with other people and doing my best rather than being on a team where winning every single tournament trophy was the goal. Today, what I remember most and what makes me happy are not the trophies sitting on a shelf collecting dust demonstrating great softball abilities, but the people and friends I’ve met along the way, most of whom I still talk to today.

This year I began a new experience, running cross country. I began knowing I would never become the MVP or qualify for sectionals or state. It was simple, I wasn’t naturally good enough. This did not matter. I ran cross country because I wanted to, not for the purpose of achieving an award or because someone else thought I should. Tangible objects such as Raider award or MVP are an added bonus once success is achieved, not the representation of success. If a teammate wins an award, that doesn’t mean she is any more successful than me.

Success and happiness are abstract, ever changing, individual concepts that take place within a person’s own mind, not concrete awards or certificates. I believe people are successful in different ways. I believe first I must be happy with my own accomplishments, and then success will follow.