Days past my 18th birthday and days from my high school graduation, I have received enough advice in my life time to write a short novel: brilliant ideas, thoughtful logic, and well learned lessons. Morally stable people, with established lives wanting nothing more than to pass on their hardest learned lessons, helping me avoid the troubles they have faced. It is admirable and flattering and yet, I believe, insignificant. I believe that the greatest lessons learned are learned through experience; more comes from the fear, regret, and dizzying ache that are the consequence of messing up and living through hard times. Although the kind words of wisdom passed on from those around you are a comfort, nothing is truly learned.
As a young child, I behaved in fear of getting caught. What would my parents do if I slacked off in school? What would they say if I failed to finish my chores? What would they think if they saw me treat my peers badly? I was told how to behave, when it was okay to talk, and to always eat my vegetables. Decisions were made based on what consequences I would face and if it was worth it. I did not truly understand right and wrong, only acceptable and unacceptable.
However, the turning point in my life was when I realized that decisions should be made for me. It is always nice to please the ones you care about, but it is most important that you do not disappoint yourself. I finally decided that it was worth smiling at people passing just to see them smile back, that the benefits of hard work outweighed the misery of losing sleep and personal time, and that vegetables were not actually devil’s food and would help me live a long healthy life.
I grew up with a great family. They were supportive and led by great example. I strive to be a better person because they are better people. However, I was driven by myself. I wanted to be a respectable person, so I chose to be a respectable person. In time, I became more than just a well behaved young girl. I became a responsible and considerate young adult.
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