Taking Risks: Not Being Afraid

Addie - Monrovia, California
Entered on February 1, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem
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In my hand I had a Jack, a Queen, and a King. All I needed was an Ace to win the twenty-five teddy grahams that were at stake. With barely a hint of reluctance in my voice, I told my mom to give me another card. Almost instantly after seeing what she had given me, I put my cards down and grabbed the golden-brown bear cookies; I had won. Playing it safe is not a part of my game plan. I knew that asking my mom for another card could have lost the entire game for me, but it was worth it to get the teddy grahams. I believe that sometimes to achieve greatness, you have to take risks.

Many people would rather be safe and not take a chance, which in some situations is a good quality to have. However, some of the greatest opportunities in life are only obtained because someone went for it all. Although this is a belief I have had all my life, one particular day in fourth grade really formulated the idea in my mind. It was a sweltering Saturday in May, and my softball team was in the Championship. It was the last inning, and we were down by three. Two of my best friends were on second and third base, and needed to run home. I was up at bat, and needed to hit a homerun to tie it up so we could go into overtime.

We had two outs, so it was all up to me. I walked up to the plate with my Louisville Slugger in hand, tapped the plate with my bat, and took my stance. Two strikes went by in a flash; I almost did not see them. The third pitch was right down the middle, and I hit it. It was not anything close to one of those homerun, game-winning, out of the park hits so commonly portrayed in movies, but it would definitely take me to second and my friends home. My friends ran home with no problem, and sure enough, I made it to second. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the score changing; we still needed one more point. I knew I could not stop at second. Defying my coach’s orders to stay, I ran on to third base. I could see that the catcher was just receiving the lime green softball, ready to end the game. Somehow, my legs kept running. I could see that the catcher was stumbling; had she really caught it? I rounded third and started for the home stretch. I am sure everyone was yelling and screaming, but at that moment it was only her I was concerned with. I was about five feet away when I saw her drop the ball. It hit the plate with an almighty thud that shattered eardrums. I extended my leg, and felt the cool plastic under me. Then, all I heard was the umpire shout “SAFE!” The crowd cheered, and I was underneath a pile of teammates.

The experience of running home even though it looked like I had lost everything for our team really taught me that in order to be great, you have to take risks. Even my parents have shown me that going out on a limb can be a good choice. Just this October, my mom quit her job where she was miserable. That decision would have been perfectly normal if she had a job to go to when she quit. She quickly found a new job that she loves, but it was not the safest idea to quit so unexpectedly without a backup. My dad has also taught me that when on stage it is much better to take risks than to simply say your lines. He once told me that it is better to go onstage, be wacky and goofy, make a complete fool of yourself and get a laugh than to bore people to sleep.

In some situations, being risky can be a bad decision, but I think that it is better to go for it instead of wonder what could have happened if you had played it safe. If I had not asked my mom for that card, or ran home despite what my coaches told me, who knows what could have happened? If I had not, there could have always been that thought of maybe I could have made it. I believe that taking risks is the way to achieve greatness, even if sometimes you do lose your teddy grahams.