This I Believe

Alex - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on February 15, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

“I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true—hard work pays off…” – Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 911. Ray Bradbury, Ralph Waldo Emerson and I all have something in common, and that is, a belief in ourselves. Just as they were, I was brought to believe that a person with ambition, perseverance, and hard work, can achieve great things. This belief in “myself’, is not a boastful or irrational confidence in my abilities, but a necessity, brought about by stress in a school environment.

A year and a half ago, I was suddenly jerked from the lenient and relaxing paradise of elementary school, and tossed into the tumultuous and tightly scheduled reality of high school. Strict deadlines had to be met, immense workloads had to be coped with, loads of information had to be retained, and throughout all this, we were expected to stay sane.

I started out like many others, not realizing what I had gotten myself into, not realizing that the school I went to was unlike the high schools my parents could tell me about, and was more comparable to the colleges they went to. Entering, I was aware that I could no longer slack off as I had in elementary school, but that itself was not enough to prepare me.

Stacks of books and late nights started to hit me rather quickly. The results were sleep deprivation and rushed work, which took their toll on me and caused me to slip and fall behind. Soon I was in desperation, scrambling to catch up, but at the same time struggling to keep up with what kept on coming. It seemed impossible, I felt lost, and helpless, there was no way I could ever work hard enough to make up what I had lost, and manage the continuous and ever fluctuating flow of material.

Yet, with this despair, came a dogged determination to succeed, to rise above, to dig myself out of the hole that I had fallen into. I knew as Ray Bradbury did, that I would only get as much out of this as I put into it, and I knew that getting back to ground zero would mean putting in everything I had, for a great deal of time. Thus, I began a long uphill battle in which I made painstakingly slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

I emerged from this journey a new person. I emerged as a person that was brought to believe in the effectiveness and importance of hard work, ambition, and perseverance, in achieving goals. With the desire to succeed, came the necessity to believe. Without this belief, I was powerless, I was bound for failure, and I was unable to survive the burdens that were put upon me.

These were the same virtues that allowed my family to emerge from almost nothing, into successful immigrants half a century before, and they were what allowed me to emerge from the academic hole I had dug myself into. I believe now, that we can achieve anything with a stubbornness to move forward. For this reason, I believe in the power of self-determination and focus, and I believe that anyone with ambition can succeed at whatever they shoot for.