AN Essay Contest HOSTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
DOTDASH MEREDITH & REAL SIMPLE
14 Girls Write Now mentees share mini- and mega-moments of clarity in these personal essays.
Sometimes the Way to Win Is to Quit
By Hazel Agicha
“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one,” is the best compliment for an overachieving young adult trying to find their way around the world. At least it was for me.
I moved to America when I was nine years old, with a brain exploding with dreams. I wanted to excel at anything and everything: sports, cooking, spelling bees, whistling. You name it, I tried it.
I wanted to give my parents a child they could proudly brag about; I still do. Growing up in a household as a middle child, where achievements were expected, not celebrated, really took a toll on me. It ate at me from the inside. Every time my siblings achieved something, there was a fire inside of me, and the next day, I wanted to excel at it. In the game of life, determination was Level One, but I was playing at Level: Obligation. I thought that achieving all of these things would earn me extra tickets at this arbitrary arcade where the more tickets I had, the bigger the prize would be. I had to have the biggest and shiniest prize, because if I did, no one else could. It was tiring competing with people who didn’t even know there was a competition.
As my tasks piled up, my calendar filled—art club on Monday, volunteering at the school library on Tuesday, badminton on Wednesday, etc.—The only thing I didn’t have time for was myself. I felt like a chameleon, switching colors throughout the day, however, I didn’t even know my own true color. I had no time to ask myself the important questions: Who am I? Do I just plan to live the rest of my life green-eyed, fueled with jealousy? Was it worth all the dark bags under my eyes? Or the nights I spent up with an ache from my rounded back? Was it worth always trying to get ahead of everyone, including myself?
To be honest, I didn’t even want to answer these questions, it would have been easier to just explode. Like a glitter bomb! But without the glitter and with the stress. It was almost like lucid dreaming; I could see what I was doing to myself but felt paralyzed and could not stop it.
I was always that one girl that would sit alone. It was on purpose, since when else would I do my homework? There was no time for friends. Life was passing by. I never got along with my siblings either, since I was always waiting for them to mess up so I would seem better.
I am now 15. There was no specific event, no huge moment of realization, no life-or-death situation, no “figuring out my life at a retreat in the woods” movie montage. It just changed. I just grew tired of being tired. I try not to compete with people, but look forward and chase my future self. The only person that I now compete with is a past version of myself. If I could go back, I wouldn’t change anything because it was essential for me to realize life is a game, but not the losing type. This jack still has many trades, but they are trades that make me happy, not ones I forced on myself.
My Simple Realization: An Essay Contest & Story Collection
14 Girls Write Now mentees share mini- and mega-moments of clarity in these personal essays. This contest was produced in partnership with Dotdash Meredith and the team at Real Simple as part of the SeeHer Initiative.
Hazel Agicha is a sophomore who loves anything plants, cats and reading. Her goals are to get into a college where she can pursue business and finance. She moved to to America five years ago from India.