Sylvia Vanderburgh - Grade 9, Oakwood High School
Dancing in the Rain
Every day is a battle. Certain conditions vary from day to day -- the battleground, the weapons, the ferocity of the fight -- but one thing never changes: the enemy.
Most of my battles, like most teenagers’, take place at school. I tend to favor a select few weapons: faith, hope, and joy. I find allies in my friends, family, and my guardian angel. All these weapons and allies aid me in the fight to choose happiness.
When I made the transition to middle school, it didn’t take long to figure out what the next six years had in store for me: stress, homework, sleep deprivation, and plenty of complaining. In the couple minutes spent transitioning classes in the halls, swear words flew like baseballs in the park; in my eyes, every moving body radiated despair. I had one objective each day: survive.
By the time the leaves turned red and crunchy, misery choked my heart. Sure, the classes themselves were fine, but I realized kids choose unhappiness all the time. Negativity and gloom lurked in the halls, threatening to suffocate anyone at any given moment. I loved learning, but I hated school.
As the year progressed, a choice stared me in the face: fall victim to others’ behavior and decide the classroom was a prison cell in disguise, or find the joys school has to offer, and view graduation as the end of good times and the beginning of even better ones. I could continue to survive, or I could thrive.
Gradually, I made my decision. It stayed small: a smile and casual “How’s your day going?”, or perhaps an insignificant comment on the sun peeping out after a stint of rain. But those tiny observations -- my faith, hope, and joy verbalized -- meant the world to people. I grew happier when I acknowledged the light, and I wasn’t the only one: friends and complete strangers began sharing how I impacted their lives. They didn’t always show it with words; rather, a sense of peace and happiness began to take root in our school. I became a difference maker.
As I press on to high school, the fight becomes rougher. I could give up -- it’s the easier path. But I know if I cling to faith and surround myself with good people, I’ll emerge from these four years happier than when I jumped in. And I’ve discovered happiness is something I’m willing to fight for.
Victory in the battle can be a challenge. At times, I grow weary -- after all, every rose has its thorns. But happiness is contagious: we lift each other up amid the ups and downs, and someone is always there for another. Rain must fall at some point; many days are soaked with tears. No showers last forever, though. Clinging to hope that the sun will resurface always reaps a more bountiful harvest than wallowing in the unfortunate nature of the circumstances. True victory in life is learning to dance in the rain.