Achievement in the Wake of Misfortune

Charlotte - Bedford, New York
Entered on April 30, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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The ethic that has shaped my character and defined my successes is the result of the scars of my past failures and those of the people closest to me. Without my belief I would be lost, unable to conform to the standards to which I hold myself, continue in moments of hardship, or move on in the wake of agony.

At my first cello recital, the perspiration evident upon my forehead in the fluorescent lighting, as a brilliant melody escaped from my cello and fear from my rapidly beating heart, I was empowered by a firm belief in the ability to achieve what is seemingly unattainable. I have carried this into further recital halls, every one to date. It was from the rhythmic pounding of my heart, the resounding echo of my anxiety, and the memory of a past recital that had not gone well, that I recently completed the Tarantella and Vivaldi Sonatas without a cataclysmic incident in this year’s recitals. I have learned to extract from my past failure and the force of current calamities, a firm and renewed will, a driving passion, and an ambition so profound that I may scale any obstacle that I face. Under the stress of school and maintaining high grades, I rely on a will to succeed. I posses an ambition to overcome and stretch myself further than before, to learn and grow from my failures within the cream walls of the recital room or the torrent of tears culminating my parents divorce and the collapse and failure of my family unit.

I employ the memory of my parents’ divorce, one that has made painfully clear the enormity of the consequences of all failures and the immense pain of losing control of a world and family, as fuel for my achievement. I do not allow myself to fail or waiver from my course, for fear of accepting failure and the consequences of such failure, of sinking beneath a tidal wave and never resounding difficulty of regaining emerging. I recognize the profound sorrow and the one’s self after failure, from the absence of a father to the recollection of a failed cello recital, from the awkward silence that arises when I speak about the divorce to the silence on stage as the notes fly from my memory.

I apply my trust in success and firm work ethic to even the trivial things, like waking up after day-light savings time ends, the rays of the sun bleeding into my few remaining moments of sleep, or waiting to begin a test, the echoing tap of pencils and the sharp intake of breath as the class recognizes the sheer number of pages to complete. I believe that there must exist a light to match the darkness. The throbbing of my mind and the drooping of my heavy eyelids precedes a perfect grade, while a fresh spring follows a frigid winter, and a pleasant afternoon with my mother matches the emptiness, the hole where the family of childhood used to be. I have learned that if you put in the pain, make sacrifices, and blossom from mistakes, achievement is always possible. In deciding to go the extra mile on projects, wake up thirty minutes earlier to walk the dog, or electing to practice my cello rather than play video games, I employ a strength of will derived from my belief in achieving success. I reach farther than I can because I must, and believe that success is imminent, defined and procured by failures that passed before it.

I discovered and renewed my belief in my ability to succeed within my mistakes on math tests, essays, and the creation of music, as well as those mistakes that I have witnessed, like the faltering of my family. When faced with such difficulty and darkness as the pressing of the empty howling of winter air, I find my belief and these difficulties to be my greatest strengths, promises of something better. Even when I find myself aching, missing a perfect family I cannot have, I am reassured by my theory, knowing that I will reach a happiness and success to mirror the pain. I have learned to channel the anxiety of performing at recitals, the heavy expectancy of delivering in school, and the pain of loosing my grip on a perfect family, into my greatest successes and plan to reach forward, ever higher and farther, all the better for any stumbles along the way.