Embracing Life

Sonia - Claremont, California
Entered on December 3, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Ms. Reynolds was an English teacher at my high school who was always bouncing with energy and life, her flamboyant red hair almost as loud as her personality. Carpe Diem was plastered across her classroom and was the basis of who she was. She always put her students’ needs before her own, reaching out to them and trying to connect with them on different levels. All she ever wanted was to inspire her students to dream big, explore the unfamiliar, step out of their comfort zone, and ultimately to perform at their highest potentials.

When she died in an accident my senior year, I realized just how many students she impacted, myself included. There were hundreds of students at her memorial service, most of who couldn’t even fit inside the church and had to stand outside in the pouring rain just to honor who she was, and what she represented. Grieving over her death made me reflect on how I lived my life and what I wanted my life to represent.

I believe that every person deserves a chance. I don’t like to, and try not to, judge others by how they look or what other people say about them. My first impressions of others are usually completely off. I look back at the friendships I have right now, and though some of them started out rocky, the memories I have with them are irreplaceable. Everyone could be a potential friend and I’d just rather have more friends than enemies.

I’m not someone that’s usually very bitter or angry or at least not for a very long. I believe that it’s unhealthy to hold a grudge for too long. Forgive, forget, and move on. I think that life is too short to waste time dwelling on the little upsets. Instead, I hope for a brighter day and enjoy each day as it is. Sometimes, I find myself bickering about the most trivial things that I lose sight of the big picture because in the grand scheme of things, they’re just little speed bumps of life.

I have also decided that since wrinkles are ultimately unavoidable, I might as well get them from smiling too much than from constantly frowning. This may sound utterly cliché with a splash of cheesy, but a smile and “hello” from one person could turn someone else’s frown upside down. I believe that happiness is contagious, so I try to spread it because sometimes a little act of kindness is all it takes.

What I’ve learned most from Ms. Reynolds’ death is not to let down when things get tough. Regardless of how hard I try, challenges and obstacles will always come my way, so why not take advantage of it and make the most out of it. I try to approach everything with optimism because everything happens for a reason and I can only grow from the challenges I face.