Joshua - Lakewood, Colorado
Entered on October 20, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

In two hours, I will be opening presents with my family, but right now I am in downtown Denver standing in front of a man in old jeans, a huge parka, and a backpack full of blankets on his back. I hand him a warm, foil wrapped package and say, “Merry Christmas! Would you like a burrito?”

I have had many chances to step outside of my comfort zone. Some opportunities are to better the world, others to help a person, and some to simply improve myself. Surprisingly, I have been brought all of these diverse opportunities in the form of mentors. My mentors have shown me that there are so many chances to inspire others. Mentors are those people that inspire their protégé’s to do things that seem impossible to the protégé.

I met Andy at a party for one of our mutual friends. I was shocked at how he lives a genuine life. Over the next few weeks, I found that how he acted around me was exactly how he acted around everyone else, joyous. I was actually taken aback, almost cynical, at first by the unabashed joy that he expressed and how free he was because of his joy. After getting together with him a few times, my perspective changed. Instead of disliking him because of his happiness, I actually admired him. In everything he did he was joyous. I realized that I wanted to be joyful too. This friend changed into a mentor. I admired him so much that I wanted to be like him.

I believe that I need other people in my life to inspire me to do what I deem impossible. Andy did this. He inspired me to find joy in my life. Similarly, I have inspired and challenged other people to live a more meaningful life. Without other people around to inspire me, I know that I would stay in stagnation. Far from being self-inspiring, though I have my moments, I find that my greatest opportunities are the ones where people have challenged and inspired me to step out of my comfort zone, reach out to other people, and sometimes give a warm, foil wrapped package to a stranger.