Student columnist offers her advice

MADISON STATENThere is a saying that I will never forget. It changed my perspective on life, or at least high school, forever. It moved me to do something before I had to, thus avoiding quitting before the experience ever began.

Winston Churchill was once asked to give a speech at a college graduation. Everyone was expecting a big long lecture, some advice from this experienced man, about how they could change the world. Instead, Churchill left his seat, went to the podium, took a deep breath, and offered five words: “Never, never, never give up.” He then sat down.

Easy for Churchill to say, he was a world-renowned leader. And frankly, it’s easy for my pastor to tell our congregation that story in church, for he strives to be as close to God as possible. Me? I’m just a regular girl. Normal. I don’t need to hear a story about a person who is so smart he only has to say five words to move people to action.

I don’t need to be preached about the value of never giving up. I’m 15 years old! I can’t even decide on a Facebook profile picture. Quitting is hardwired into my brain.

Knowing I have the ability to quit paralyzes me. It would scare you too if you were going to be a freshman come fall. I want to change the world, make a difference, but everyone else has so much more potential than me. How can I do anything great?

I didn’t know that I had so many fears. Some were typical, regarding the future, grades and what life in general would bring.

I’m 15 years old! I can’t even decide on a Facebook profile picture. Quitting is hardwired into my brain.
Others were more personal. I worried myself into hysteria about tripping down the school’s stairway or spilling my lunch all over someone’s clothes. (I’m sure that’s a great way to make new friends) I didn’t know how I was going to survive.

Through these unknowns, Churchill’s words stuck with me. I knew I couldn’t stay paralyzed forever, always unhappy and worrying. It was the words of the great leader that made me get over my fear of high school and sign up early. I signed up for a digital media class and for a summer PE class. I told myself I did it to relive stress, but really I just didn’t want to stay fearful of high school forever.

Yes, I was officially a high school student, but I sure didn’t feel like one. Even with Churchill’s words echoing in my head I still felt terrified. Opening the doors on my first day of PE, one of my teachers passed out a sheet of paper. On it was another set of words that provided proper perspective: “Joy must always be present. If it is not present, tweak your body. Always seek the sensation of joy. Stay connected to joy.”

I realized that Churchill’s words, “Never, never, never give up,” were important, but if you only focused on those five words you were missing a piece of a much bigger whole. Life throws obstacles in your way, and if you quit as you are trying to get through those obstacles (or even before you get to them), you’ll never get to where you want to go. Additionally, you must also find joy in the process of overcoming adversity, otherwise you’ll forever be working toward a goal that will never present itself because you were never truly happy.

In the end, I loved my first high school classes and without the help of these two sayings I know my outlook on life would be different. I would still be paralyzed. Or worse, I would be working toward something without being happy about it. Instead, I’m ready for whatever high school holds. I’m not scared anymore, Because having the opportunity to quit also means having the opportunity to succeed.

Madison Staten is a freshman at West Linn High School.

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