Unlocking Life’s Doors

Leonie - Manhattan, Kansas
Entered on October 6, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Three years ago my life changed drastically, and forever.

At age 14 I moved away from the place I loved and entered a world completely different from my own. I remember the day I finally realized what was going to happen to me. My parents had told me to sort through my books and pack the ones I wanted to take with me. When I saw my empty bookshelves, deprived of their only purpose, the reality I was trying to avoid finally hit me- I was going to leave Germany, my home, and move to the United States, a country so foreign to me. That night I cried.

The first year I spent in the States was tough and there were many moments where I wished with all my heart that I simply could return to my old life. School be-came a constant struggle between wanting to blend in and staying the same. Not only did I feel out of place, but it seemed like a culture shock was waiting for me behind every corner. I’ll never forget how astonished I was when I saw a fourteen year old with a red polk-a-dot bow in her hair- I had stopped wearing them when I was five. And although I was relatively fluent in English, it was frustrating not to be able to rely upon my native language- something I had always taken for granted. English had gone from my favorite class to my only way of communication.

Now, as a senior in high school, I can look back at those trying times and say that no matter what life throws at me, I know that I, and only I, have the power to overcome those obstacles and be a better person because of them. I guess it all goes back to that saying that so many of us have seen on countless posters in schools all over the coun-try…if you tell yourself you can’t do something, you simply won’t.

Through this life-changing experience I have come to believe that each and every individual holds the key to success in their own hands and they are the only ones who are going to be able to unlock life’s many doors. There are no magic tricks or recipes to stick to, there is only life, and what you make of it.

This, I believe.