Great | Teen Ink


December 2, 2021
By Anonymous


Great. A word used to describe ability, quality, or eminence that is considerably above average. Another prevalent meaning is excellent, or exquisite. What does it mean to be “great”? What does it take to become great? Although these meanings may hold truth, there is a more profound meaning to the word that I desire to unearth. 

A “great” person is someone who has accomplishments, trophies, awards, or is highly respected by many. It can also be a person who is sympathetic, humble, or loyal. In my personal opinion, acquiring this virtue takes time and dedication. For example, Michael Jordan; A young basketball player who was relatively short, lanky, and a dissatisfactory player. Upon not making his high school basketball team Freshman and Sophomore year, Jordan pushed the limits. He practiced relentlessly, hardly taking any breaks. In the 19995-1996 NBA season, Jordan averaged 30.4 points per game and made almost 50% of the shots he took. This season is widely considered the best individual season in NBA history. All of the hours of blood, sweat, and tears— was to become great. Now, Michael Jordan, a 5-time MVP and a 14-time All Star, is recognized as the best basketball player of all time.

               Sometimes, great can be used sarcastically. For example; a man gets into a car accident and irritatedly says, “great”. Using the word in a sarcastic manner often implies that things simply—are not great. I’ve heard this word used sarcastically on countless occasions. One time being when my mother expeditiously drove me to school. With lots of distractions everywhere, it dismayed her when the car in front of her came to an abrupt stop. Her car bashed the one in front, and with a blank face of disgust, she remarked, “Great”. Although this may be a potential use of the word, it still has a much deeper definition that is soon to be divulged.

Additionally, there is a large difference between a great person and a good person. A good person may be considerate and thoughtful, but a great person goes above and beyond to do the right thing and reach their goals. Many dream of becoming great, which can be different for everyone. Being great for some may be becoming the president, making the MLS (Major League Soccer), winning a Nobel peace prize, or gaining medals of recognition for their service in the military. And for the more tranquil people, being great is having a home in the suburbs with an affectionate family. Whatever meaning the word has to oneself, it takes perseverance, dedication, practice, and determination to truly become “great”. 

Furthermore, there are various interpretations of the word great that can depend on the social status or the views someone has. For example, an extremely wealthy person may base a great person on their net worth and the size of their wallet. A poor person may consider a great person to be one that gives back to the community, and acknowledges all of the struggling people in the world. Whatever the meaning is to you, it's important to understand other peoples’ perspectives on the word as well. 

        My dream is to one day, be great. Although there are many meanings to the word, there is only one meaning to me. I endeavor to be the most extraordinary version of myself, whether that is soccer, basketball, academics, my own moral compass, or myself as a human being. As I have learned, one cannot be born “great”. It is something that is earned over time. Patience is the key to reaching the goals that have been set out for oneself. Well-known actor Robert Downey Jr. was once an alcoholic, drug-addict, and criminal. His life seemed to have been doomed from the start, with practically no chance at success. With the aid of his friends and family, along with perseverance, dedication, and hard work, Downey Jr. made a name for himself and is now one of the most successful actors. The lesson to be learned from this is that one has to become great, and it is not an inherited trait. Practicing, perseverance, patience, and dedication are all major factors in improving. Although I don’t have the title of “great” yet, with time and continued determination, I will hopefully acquire this title. Whichever path I choose to embrace in life, or a path that anyone takes in life, it's crucial to be the best version of yourself. This is the most impactful meaning of the word, great.

The author's comments:

This piece is a in depth definition of the word "great" and its many interpretations. 

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