“I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth, then I ask myself the same question.”
― Harun Yahya
Looking to the Skies
As a freshman at Diamond Bar High School, I remember the day I declared my mission: “Whatever it takes, I’m going to study hard in my four years here and get into UC Berkeley.” I promised to not let anything else distract me from my studies, whether it would be my friends, games, or even scouting. However, after one semester in school, I found it difficult to uphold my mission. Focusing all my attention on studying often left me restless and I wasn’t really enjoying high school. I felt that my dedication to academics was hindering me from developing in other equally important areas.
After reflecting upon my freshman year during summer break, I decided to rewrite my mission. When I looked back over my freshman year, what was most memorable and gratifying to me were the conversations I had with my peers. I could remember all of them so well. I remember how happy I was to have a friend to talk to during passing period to my next class. I remember how a simple conversation by my locker was the one thing that brightened my day.
Despite this discovery, I was still uncomfortable because I was very shy early in high school. Though I loved talking to people, it was hard for me to initiate conversations. Sometimes, I’d do things to avoid others because I was nervous. I’d do my homework twice in class just so I wouldn’t have free time to chat. I’d look down so I wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone in the hallways. And after doing all these things, I absolutely regretted it.
In response, I took a risk that would impact the rest of my years in high school: I signed up for Beginning Drama. I took drama because I knew it would help break me out of my comfort zone. Although the first few weeks of drama were difficult, I slowly adjusted. We did icebreakers for three straight weeks before actually doing plays, and spent a lot of class time getting to know each other. Each time I appeared on stage chipped away at my shyness and as a result, I had more conversations and a more enjoyable experience in school. I was overjoyed that my plan was working.
I proceeded to take Intermediate Drama in junior year and Advanced Drama my senior year and continued to break out of my shell. Those years were easily my favorite. Besides classtime, we put on productions, traveled to plays, and attended competitions. I was honestly never a good actor, but nonetheless I appreciated all that my experience in drama had given me. I met a group of friends that I still keep in touch with today and overcame my shyness.
Reaching my Destination
I’ll never forget the day late in my senior year when my two missions converged and became one. I was rehearsing backstage for a production after school when I got a text from my friend that the UC Berkeley admission decisions had been released. I asked the director to use his computer to check my admissions status and found that I was accepted. I took some time to savor the moment. I closed my eyes as memories from the past four years flashed by. I exhaled knowing that my work in school had paid off. I heard the muffled noise of my classmates through the stage door and smiled, knowing I had to join them soon. It was so fitting to me that in the drama room, one journey and ended and another had began.
For all of my days ahead, I am blessed with the gift to freely engage others in conversation-a gift that I may not have today if I did not take the risk of joining drama in my sophomore year. I promise to use my gift to help others reach their goals and encourage them to take the necessary risks that will get them there. Whatever is holding you back from being who you want to be-whether it be shyness, anxiety, self-doubt, or any external influence, remove yourself from your comfort zone and allow yourself to grow. You’ll get everything you want and more.
All the best,
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