Almost six years ago, as an 8th grade English student at Pioneer Ridge Middle School, I was tasked with writing an essay about an idea I strongly believed to be true. Something interesting about this assignment was that my teacher had taken the prompt for this essay from a writing contest put out by a radio program entitled “This I Believe” that ran for four years on NPR. At 13 years old I didn’t have a lot of opinions that I was confident enough in to declare them in a school assignment (nor did I have any idea what NPR was), but one specific belief stuck out to me in my life then that I dedicated a whole page and a half to it. I found the essay today and thought I’d publish it (unedited) for a couple of reasons: one, my teacher thought it was good enough that she ended up entering it in the contest, which I think is so cool now knowing and loving NPR, and two, though the essay is a little corny, I still strongly believe its core message. I didn’t end up being featured on the program, unsurprisingly, but just being deemed a good enough writer to be entered into an adult essay contest by my 8th grade English teacher really boosted my writing confidence back then.
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Even Anonymous Knows What He’s Talking About
Anyone who’s ever been inside the classrooms of an average American school knows the posters. From “Use your inside voice” to “Writing Skills,” big, small, custom, and generic, they cling to wall after wall. Long have I simply ignored these laminated messages, not even registering what they are trying to convey. Colorful signs have caught my eye, but I am often disappointed by what the text covering them reads. Sometimes it’s what the most simply illustrated poster says that I decide to let sink in…
This was the case with a certain sign, hung up in a humble corner facing a safe seat. I sat in my homeroom that first day of seventh grade, and for a while, not even noticing it. Unknown to me then, that piece of poster board would be a large factor in how I decided I would start my eighth grade year differently. Although I had soon read it, I didn’t fully understand the saying until later that year. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten,” the poster announced. It was a quote.
At the bottom it read, “Anonymous.” What a significant thought, and the person who had written the quote didn’t get any credit. But whoever it was, they would’ve had to have been in that situation to really understand the feeling. That unknown person had wanted something to change in his or her life, and to get it, they had found that it required them to think outside of the box for once; to step out of their comfort zone.
I took that quote to heart, and as the summer before eighth grade drew to a close, I began thinking about how I wanted this year to be different, and about how if I wanted that, I had to change it myself. In eighth grade, I wanted to branch out; make new friends and become more outgoing, hopefully gaining good popularity at the same time. That first day of the new school year was a tough, hurried half-day, in which I became frustrated with the fact that nothing seemed different than the year before. But that night, I remembered that if I always did what I had always done, I wouldn’t get anything different than what I’d already gotten before.
The next two weeks passed quickly, but somewhere within them I tried it out; talking to new people, having more self-confidence, and not ever being afraid to put myself out there. Soon, I felt like an equal to all of my peers, not above or below them. In those first short weeks of eighth grade, I had already gained many new friends, strengthened and renewed old friendships, and become happier with my school life.
For this I believe: if you do something you’ve never done before, you will receive something new in return, and that people can’t just write the quotes on those posters, they must have been there in their own lives to really know what they’re talking about.