All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Outside My Own Little World
“What if there’s a bigger picture? What if I’m missing out? What if there’s a greater purpose that I could be living right now? I don’t want to miss what matters. I want to be reaching out. Show me the greater purpose so I can start living now outside my own little world.” I spent 8 days living and breathing these words along with 45 other high school kids who happen to be some of my closest friends and even more than that; my second family. During our week spring break this year, we set out to travel across the country to our ultimate destination, New York, singing at a various churches and hoping to inspire at least a few faces of strangers along the way.
But this church choir trip ended up becoming so much more than that.
It became a safe haven, away from the drama and repetitive routine we all aimlessly dragged ourselves through every day, for all of us to become something more than we all were on a daily basis. Our choir became a support system that spent literally 24 hours together, sleeping, eating, and singing. We fought, we cried, we laughed but most of all we accepted one another, no matter what kind of clique or background we came from. Those fine line boundaries from our high school disappeared and together we created our own little world that, by the end of these 8 days, no one wanted to depart from to go back to our unfortunate reality.
The lights, the skyscrapers, the city!
We had finally reached our destination, the Big Apple, after days of endless hours aboard our new home also known as a spacious Coach bus. None of us could take our eyes off the hustle and bustle of this city which made Downers Grove seem even more boring than we thought before we left. We spent two days exploring the subway underneath the city, China Town, Times Square, and Central Park, never running out of places to go or things to do. It wasn’t hard to get lost within the first couple hours since we had arrived in the city, seeing as it takes about 500 square miles and holds about 8 million people. We weaved our way through the streets and the shops and the restaurants, simply in awe of how alive this city is. At night, the city life is 100 times more vibrant and colorful and we found ourselves staying out into the late hours of the night, trying to soak up every moment we had here in the city that never sleeps. In our minds, it was paradise but we had been forgetting the true reason why we had come to New York in the first place.
In our everyday lives, we never stop for a second to think about what’s happening outside our own little bubble. All we tend to think about is “Who is dating who?” or “When’s my next math test?” or “Ugh, I don’t feel like going to track practice today.” As highschoolers, we always are stressing about the little things that consume our lives and never spend enough time reading the news or paying attention to realize the bigger issues going on in the world. All we do is whine and complain about how much our lives suck when we don’t realize how good we have it compared to others. Our poverty rate in Downers Grove is a mere 2.8% of our population compared to the 12.3% of the entire population. Despite the lack of interesting things to do on a Friday night, I would say our town has it pretty good compared to the rest of the world.
Maybe that’s our problem. Maybe we’re just not as exposed to poverty and violence as the rest of the world so we never get a chance to see how much worse our lives could be if we lived somewhere else or had a different home life. The small things, like being grounded or the school losing a football game, begin to seem so miniscule compared to the thousands of people dying every day or even worse, the millions of people that have been suffering through things like starvation or sickness for their whole lives.
During our exploration of the Big Apple one night, we decided to act on the message we were trying to convey for this whole entire week. Four of my friends and I were taking a casual stroll through the one and only Central Park and thought of a bright idea. We began picking up flowers of all different shapes, sizes and colors until we all each had a bouquet of our own. We then proceeded to pass a flower out to every biker, runner, or walker that we passed in the park. Some of them accepted graciously with a smile and some of them rudely rejected it, thinking it was a joke, but either way, an experience with one particular jogger stood out. We had given him a flower at the beginning of our mission to make the night just a little better for everyone in Central Park and we happened to pass this same jogger again about an hour later and he was still running with the flower in his hand and a smile on his face.
It made us feel a little better to know that this little act of merely handing a flower to someone was making at least a small change in New York City and it felt good to know that that jogger may have been having the worst day ever or even just a normal day, but it was made just a little brighter by us because he realized that a stranger cared about him.
This is what life should be all about. Not every act of kindness has to be as big as buying someone a house or trying to create world peace. It should be about the little gestures that people make towards one another despite how badly their own life seems to be in the moment. When I fail a math test, I shouldn’t be blocking out the rest of the world to drown in all of my F’s and sorrows. Someone else may not even know where they’re going to sleep or what their dinner is going to be that night. All of us should remember that no matter how big our problem seems to be, someone else has a bigger problem that they are being forced to deal with. So forget that F and make the most of every day by doing all that you can to brighten someone else’s day if your own can’t be perfect.
“Stopped at a red light looked out my window. I saw a cardboard sign that said help this homeless widow and just above that sign was the face of a human. I thought to myself ‘God, what have I been doing.’ So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye. Oh, how many times have I just passed her by? I gave her some money then I drove on through. And my own little world reached population two.” Matthew West’s song “My Own Little World” is what the theme of our concert was based on and as I sang those words, I looked out into one of our many audiences. A couple people looked like they were about to fall asleep, others looked like they were spacing out, but then there were some that had completely different expressions. Those people were swaying to the music, with tears in their eyes. Those people were the ones who came up to us afterwards to thank us for coming to their church to perform. Those people tell us that we made a positive impact on their night, their week, or even their life. Those people are why we do these concerts in the first place and what this tour is all about.
Not everyone has to take giant leaps out of their own bubbles, but imagine if everyone at least took a few baby steps once or twice a day. Imagine what our world could be if we all stepped outside our own little world.