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The Pursuit of Happiness

When I was younger, I would spend every waking minute of daylight that I could outside. I would play in the sun for hours, romping through the woods, catching salamanders in the stream near my house, or spending hours setting up army men for a grand battle, only to be called inside as soon as I finished. I constantly approached my brothers with the phrase “Wanna Wessel?” still too young to pronounce my “r’s.” I was a tiny child too, premature by six full weeks and weighing a measly four pounds, six ounces. My parents didn’t even have name for me when I was born. Being the forth and youngest child, I was known as Cuatro for my first few days in the hospital. As my friends grew bigger and I didn’t, it became clear that I probably wouldn’t have a future as a football player or a wrestler. So, I tried baseball, soccer, and ice hockey, and as it turns out, I wasn’t very good at those either. I was not disheartened though because to me, practice was really just a place for me to see my friends and laugh at each other a few times a week. I never understood how my friends would be so upset just because we lost a game, I was just happy to be there doing it! As long as I was outside, playing in grass, I was happy.
When I was ten, going into middle school, I moved from flat, no-trees-in-sight Ohio to the back woods of New Jersey. A place with so many streams and salamanders, I couldn’t believe my luck. That summer I explored ever where, naming landmarks and building hideouts all along my underdeveloped neighborhood. Barefoot and outside was how I was suppose to be, it was so clear to me I never had to think about it. For a kid that was just happy to be doing something, I was easy to please. Somewhere between my foray into middle school and learning what curse words meant, I began to lose sight of what had made me truly happy, being outside. Like all children my age, I developed a deep interest in video games, and if you weren’t the one on the football field, you were the one inside playing with Legos or on the computer. I actually started playing lacrosse for the first time when I moved, and still enjoy playing it today, but I was always one of the worst on the field.
Towards my teenage years, I followed the crowd. I became someone who desperately needed the acceptance of others, like most teenagers. I listened to the cool music (well, I tried, but it was terrible), bought the cool clothes, and even made fun of the less fortunate kids. I had lost sight of what made me a happy person.

Now, as a relatively mature high school senior, I like to think I have gained that sight back. I spend time with people who enjoy things I do, not because it is what they’re doing, but because it is what I want to do. I hike in the Adirondacks multiple times every year and find trails around my house. I have followed my father’s advice of being a leader and not a follower and now, just by being myself and doing what makes me happy, I command the respect of nearly all my piers. I have gained sight of the value of a good education and why I am as lucky as I am to be happy. As long as remain in sight of good morals and values, I know I can, and will accomplish whatever I choose to. As long as I am happy, nothing can touch me.





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