This I Believe

Madeleine - Manlius, New York
Entered on December 18, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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Never Give Up

Never give up. No matter how difficult it gets to achieve your goal, you have to stick with it, just to know that you put in all effort, just to know that you deserve your accomplishments.

My feet were hanging off the edge of Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. I was literally holding on to the rope for my life. My mind went numb with fear. Using strength I didn’t even know I had, I pulled myself back up.

I was standing there along the side of the cliff, hyperventilating from fear. I didn’t want to risk slipping again by continuing to climb. Never in my life have I wanted to give up and turn around more than I did then. But I also knew I didn’t want to miss the sight I had hiked twenty miles to see.

I forced myself to take another step, for I knew I would be greatly rewarded when I reached the top. Each step got easier and easier as my goal came closer, until I finally crossed the finish line. I immediately smiled the happiest and most genuine smile I’ve ever made. I knew I had made the right choice to keep on climbing. While looking down at the snow-covered mountain peaks, I knew I was looking at the most beautiful sight I could have ever hoped to see. I felt like I was on top of the world. I knew at that moment, that I can achieve anything I put my mind to, as long as I don’t give up.

I was lying in bed the night after my treacherous climb, when I realized how much you can miss out on in your life if you give up. I made an oath never to give up on a goal ever again.

Only a few weeks later, I had another experience where I had to make the decision to continue on or give up. I had joined the swim team on a whim, and I was attending one of the very first swim practices of my life. Since I was just starting the sport, I had much less experience than my teammates.

I was swimming for my best time, when I suddenly swallowed a large gulp of water. I tried to cough it out and keep swimming, but that just caused me to swallow more water, so I eventually stopped. When I had finally finished coughing, there was dead silence, and everyone was staring at me. My coach was very angry because varsity swimmers are supposed to be able to deal with the water quickly enough so that it doesn’t stop them.

I was so embarrassed and upset, that I didn’t want to ever show my face to the team again. I knew I could quit if I wanted to, and I was seriously considering it. Then I remembered me standing on top of Half Dome, and the oath I had made never to give up on a goal. My new goal was to be a swimmer, so I forced myself to overcome my embarrassment, and walk into practice that afternoon.

Every time I think of myself on top of that cliff, it gives me confidence not to give up. It gives me confidence that I can achieve anything. It gives me confidence to enjoy every second of my life, because I know I deserve it.