This I Believe

Benjamin - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Entered on May 1, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: setbacks, work

I have learned that the key to success is built on perseverance and courage. When I was five and a half years old, I first attempted to ride a 2-wheeler bicycle. My brother helped me balance myself as I wheeled down Huron Lane. With one hand on the handle bar and the other hand on the back of the seat, my brother guided me forward. His presence alongside of me made me secure in the feeling that I would not fall off my bike. I squeezed my brother’s shirt, terrified that I might fall on the asphalt and hurt myself. After a few seconds, my brother released his hands from the bicycle and I was on my own. For a few more seconds I rode freely until I plummeted to the ground. Bruised and tearful, I picked my self up and wanted to go again. On that sticky summer day, I learned that few things in life would come easily and that in order to accomplish my goals, I would have to accept the risk of pain.

I have learned that life is filled with obstacles, potholes as I sometimes like to refer to them. Experience has taught me that if I push myself hard enough and am fearless in my effort, I will be able to scale every mountain and navigate all the potholes to achieve my goals. This has proven true in transitioning from Woodlynde School to Penn Charter, where the academics and competition is harder. It has proven true on the soccer field where I never shy away from contact or chaos. It was true in working on my dad’s campaigns for mayor where we were always underdogs. It is how we handle ourselves in the face of adversity that really shapes our character. I try to follow the words of T.S Eliot: “Only those who risk going too far, can possibly find out how far one can go.” Hard work and determination in the face of all forms of adversity and difficulty truly define us.

I believe that in order for me to reach my goals, I must be willing to confront the struggle ahead. Robin Skynner put it well when he observed, “To walk, we have to lean forward, lose our balance, and begin to fall.” The success of a person is determined by their response to errors and how they “bounce back.” Our experience of the past is not a waste or irrelevant to what we do in the future: Instead, it remains within us. I believe that I am always rewarded for my hard work and willingness to take risk. This is what I believe and what has helped define who I am.