Allen - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on October 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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Be ready. Be ready for the expected and unexpected. Be ready for anything and everything life can and will throw at you. You know its coming – you just need to be ready.

I participated in high school competitions. They were math competitions, to be exact. Math was that subject where you could have all the procedures right, but you forget that one plus two does not equal four. Everyone did that; it was natural. The only way to get rid of the habit was by being ready: practice.

My interest in competitions began in 9th grade. In school, I was living in my own small world of homework, tests, and pop quizzes. I was able to do well without much preparation – I thought I could just do everything without doing anything. For competitions, though, there was no way. I had to do something. I looked for the easy way first. I asked the top student in the state how he did so well, a question he must have heard many times. He looked at me calmly, with his trademark red and white checkered scarf around his neck, and stated “Practice.” I tried asking the other juniors and seniors who dominated the top twenty positions. They all said the same thing: “Practice.”

So I had to stop looking for the easy way out. I had to practice. At least, if I wanted to win, I had to practice. I spent my time working on math, aiming for pride, glory, and a nice shining golden trophy cup. I realized over time, however, that being ready had its own awards. I spent at least an hour every night, just reading the books, learning and relearning the basics, and moving on to more advanced levels when I had prepared myself. I began to find math much easier to work on.

That belief began to spread to other areas of my life. I began to prepare myself for other things too. I was ready for tests, projects, homework, and even pop quizzes. It was a much easier and less chaotic life than how many of my friends were living, with stress pouring in from procrastination, short attention spans, and the tendency to go out to movies on school nights. By being ready, I could live life easy.

That is now my belief. I believe that working hard to be ready can have many rewards – and I don’t mean the trophies. Those rewards can come in the form of self-confidence, independence from laziness, and pride that you can achieve your goals. Goals achieved from hard work are much more worthy than successes that you don’t care about. You need to prepare to win. Be ready for good work, and the good life will be ready for you.