Larissa - Wilmington, Massachusetts
Entered on March 1, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in being sixteen.

This might seem like an obscure idea, and to be perfectly honest, I probably never would’ve come up with it, had yesterday not been my birthday. And now, sitting here writing this essay, I contemplate why being sixteen means so much to me.

When I was eight years old, I wanted nothing more than to be sixteen. Sixteen, to me, symbolized an age of beauty, of freedom, of sophistication. Sixteen symbolized cars and licenses and makeup and cell phones and everything else that is completely shallow and irrelevant to true happiness. Nevertheless, my girly eight-year-old self wanted it all.

And now I’m sixteen. My life is far from what I thought it was going to be, back when I was eight. I don’t have a car yet—I just got my permit and from what I hear, driving school sucks—and I don’t wear makeup. I use my cell phone so rarely that the monthly bill is usually just one page. I barely have the freedom to go out on Friday nights. Why? Because things like sex offenders and AP schoolwork exist. The Barbie kind of lifestyle I thought I would have is, in reality, overloaded with school, studying, homework, stress, and work.

But the truth is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Beauty’s become more than a shallow outer layer to me, and I’ve realized that my life is beautiful. My impulse decisions and romantic daydreaming make me who I am. Working with the kids at Taekwondo has made me believe in the power of a child, and the beauty of their innocence. And sure, schoolwork can be hellish sometimes. More often than not I’m staying up late—not out with my friends, but finishing projects and dealing with stress. But that’s what being sixteen is for me, and I’m going to appreciate my life for what it is, because it really makes me happy. Being sixteen is a dream I had ever since being a child, and I believe that I should make that dream one of the happiest I’ve ever achieved.