This I Believe

Haley - Cornelius, North Carolina
Entered on May 23, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Live Your Own Life

Everyone should pave their own path. My parents have taught me this. In a way, they are rebellious, doing their own thing and not worrying too much about what others think. They are not rebellious in a destructive way. Rather, I find them enlightened, loving, and supportive. One example of their willingness to step “outside the box” came last year when they asked my sister and me if we would be interested in trying homeschooling. We had been in a small private school and before that, a large public school, but our parents wanted something different. They wanted us to have the freedom to pursue our interests and learn through living.

So, for the past year, we have been homeschooling. We have done different things. We have traveled locally, nationally, and internationally — visiting places as simple as local parks (where we took walks) and more exotic places like Fontainebleau, France (where we explored an old French chateau). We have tried new sports like volleyball and basketball. We have experimented with art — painting with gauze to create texture and designing acrylic paintings for our rooms. We have created our own yearbook and made an award-winning documentary on Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the founder of the Paralympics. We have taken Spanish classes and Italian lessons. We have thrown a pot and measured the circumference of the earth. We have experimented with magnets and planted tomato plants from seeds that were sent to space. We have designed t-shirts and mp3s. We have learned how to blog. At times, we have slept in and stayed up late. We have done our own thing.

One of the best things about homeschooling is that I can participate in a lot of sports. I have been swimming and playing soccer competitively since I was four. I love both sports. Sometimes my coaches harass me for juggling two sports. My swim coach asks me almost daily why I play soccer. My soccer coach benched me when I missed one game for a swim meet. My coaches believe that I should commit to one sport. I believe I am doing perfectly fine with two. I have excelled in both soccer and swimming, making it to the Junior Olympics in swimming and reaching my goal in soccer of scoring a goal off a header. I believe I am successful in both sports because I am doing it my way. I am happy. Maybe I could be better at one if I dropped the other. Maybe I couldn’t. Regardless, I am having fun.

Sometimes, I think that those who make their own trail and do things their own way are the happiest. I know I am. One day, I hope to teach my children to pave their own path to happiness.