I Believe in Challenges

Tripp - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on October 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in challenging myself to discover my true potential.

Advancing to the tenth grade was a big event in my life. I began the year with the mindset that I was going to waltz through another year of school. After the first few weeks of tenth grade, I was already doing poorly in almost every class I was taking. Even though I was used to taking the hardest classes possible, the classes had never been this difficult before. I stressed every night because I thought getting a “B” in a class would be the end of the world. In addition, I was on the junior varsity football team, and my starting position was being threatened. Like academics, I had always been one of the better players on the team, so worrying about my position was something new to me. I could not find any time to focus on football because of my extreme workload for school, so all I could do was continue to stress. Furthermore, I was trying to find time to practice my saxophone for an All-State audition. I had made All-State the previous three years, and I needed to continue the trend. While all of this was going on, my friends still expected me to have some resemblance of a social life. I was ready to quit. I was ready to give up and fold under the stress. I could not sleep, and I could not think clearly because I was so worried about everything. My world was in complete chaos, and I wanted out.

My family quickly noticed that my irritable mood was not just the result of natural hormones. One night, my dad called me into his room, and we talked about what was wrong. Because I was not very close to my parents at the time, I had to explain to him my situation. He told me that I needed to make a choice. I could either continue to challenge myself by being involved in as many activities as possible, or I could quit something. He said it was important that I seriously consider both options and their consequences. I imagined quitting the football team. I could not quit because my friends were on the team, and I could not let them down. I imagined quitting the saxophone; however, I quickly ruled this choice out because I loved music too much. I imagined dropping out of certain classes. My parents would be extremely disappointed in me if I took an easier path in school. I had a problem with seemingly no solution.

Eventually, I realized that I would never discover my true potential unless I constantly challenged myself. I chose to stick with music, sports, and advanced classes because I learned to accept the fact that I might not always excel the way I had hoped to. Challenges that are not taken head on will be regretted later, and I will always know that I did not back down when faced with adversity.