Who Has Influenced You? | Teen Ink

Who Has Influenced You?

July 30, 2012
By YoshiVisa GOLD, Plainsboro, New Jersey
YoshiVisa GOLD, Plainsboro, New Jersey
11 articles 0 photos 0 comments

It’s that time of year when upcoming seniors start to panic about college and college applications. Well, to be more accurate, it’s the time of year when upcoming seniors and parents not only spend the bulk of their conversations conversing about college, but spend whole weekends visiting campuses, writing essays, looking up statistics to try and compare oneself to others’ achievements.

One of the college essay topics is “Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.” The most common answer would be someone important, someone who has had a profound impact on the world morally and culturally- someone like Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi who allows the writer to exaggerate upon the influences that the person has really had on them.

But everyone knows that these people, even though they are exceptional figures that ought to be the role models of everyone, have a minor influence on the greater portion of upcoming seniors. One may wonder why these students tend to choose people like them even if they are not significantly influenced by them. I might be just assuming this, but if most of the students really did have MLK and Gandhi as role models, the world would and should not be having so many issues concerning violence and racism.

Why are seniors lying about themselves? For a better college application? Or is it because what they are really influenced by is something too embarrassing or childish to show to their parents and their friends? For most seniors, the answer to the question is both of them, that the real influencers are too naivete or embarrassing to state in a college essay or to his/her parents and it allows for a “better” college application. For me personally, that is exactly the case. My college essay may turn out to be about someone famous, someone who has had such a positive effect on the world that it would become very trivial to write an essay about him/her. But, the truth is, my life has been significantly affected not by Gandhi, and MLK, or even any other famous human. It has been affected most by a TV show character. For more than 90% of the student population of this new, technologically exposed generation, television has influenced the students in some way or another.

Naruto, a japanese-anime show that has been going on for many years now, centers on a main character, Naruto, who has continued to strive through hardships and miseries to come out on top and become the Hokage, the head and most renowned ninja of the village. Naruto has been, at least currently, the most influential person in my life, besides my parents of course. His tireless days of training, his bombastic and confident, yet sympathetic and righteous attitude are a set of values that I strive towards. I am always shy and not confident, and I always let things be, instead of trying to change them for the better. Through his hardships, I see that life is not meant to be lived by oneself. There are three things that a person lives for: family, community, and spiritual self. Naruto works to care for all three of them, many times risking his own life. Every time I am frustrated, in pain, or suffering in any way, I always think of Naruto, who grew up alone and without any help or compassion from anyone. I remember that I am so lucky to have all the resources I need right at my disposal. I remember that I have such grateful parents who were able to support me financially, morally, and socially. I also remember that I am too careless about the resources I have and that I must use them wisely. I sometimes even wonder how I am so similar in intelligence to those living under such hard circumstances. I have all the luxuries in the world and yet, I still manage to be at the same level as those without anything. It just goes to show the decrease in work ethic in the majority of people as their income rises and their hardships decrease. If more people were to use the resources instead of wasting or misusing them, the world would definitely be a more healthful, helpful, grateful society. People who are living successful lives are no different from other privileged people; it is how you use those resources that determine your successfulness.

It is unbelievable how much Naruto has helped me progress in my education. Ever since I started watching a few summers ago, my grades have increased (from a straight B student in middle school to a straight A student in high school), and I am starting to understand spirituality and religion better. I also feel the want to help children who are living in underdeveloped countries, not for college, but for the feeling that you are training a Naruto, a person who wants to strive for excellence, but just needs a little boost doing so. But for now, I am just going to write my college essay on Mahatma Gandhi, for he has had the most influence on me and colleges will think I have moral.

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