The Granite Bay Inspirational Essay Contest
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE FUTURE
Granite Bay Wealth Management, LLC holds an annual Inspirational Essay contest for Marshwood High School seniors pursuing higher education. Those interested in applying must submit a completed essay no later than April 30, 2020. The winning essay may be published* on Seacoast Online and in local print newspapers. Essays will be judged on creativity and story content. The prize for the winning essay is a one-time $2,500 college scholarship.
Essay should be no more than 600 words. Be creative with the topic, but the theme should involve a story of inspiration or personal challenge. Essay must be inspired by true events and contain no profanity. Completed essays should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than April 30, 2020. The winner will be notified prior to May 31, 2020.
Granite Bay Wealth Management, LLC began their annual scholarship as a way to give back to the communities that we are involved in.
*Essay to be published subject to editorial approval of Seacoast Media Group editor.
All I can smell is wet paint, sweat, and the sweet steam coming up from the street vendor outside the barred window. The air is damp on my skin as I move to the rhythm of the rain pattering on the tin roofs surrounding us. Children are laughing in the room next to me, and between the Spanish, English, and Creole, I can only make out bits and pieces of conversation from the jump rope competition. Everything around me is both foreign and comforting, from the bug bites around my ankles to the smile lines under my eyes.
Three other students and I had just finished painting the back room of what was slowly transforming into a public library for the beach community of Cabarete, Dominican Republic. When we entered this third-floor space, it was full — full of potential, of hope, and of intelligent children with curious minds and big hearts. When we left, it was full of color and light. The kids I had only known for two days were hugging me as tightly as they could, all with smiles larger than the books they held in their marker-tattooed hands. The walls were decorated with the playful imagination of a child: butterflies, books, animals, flowers, and every color of paint we could get our hands on (and our hands in).
I looked victoriously at the freshly painted backroom. It had taken us 3 hours, two
buckets of orange and teal paint, and lots of singalongs to finish this project. We sat down in the middle of the room with a sense of accomplishment.
Suddenly I was being ambushed by paint-covered hands belonging to giggly attackers. Handprints stained cotton t-shirts and sunburnt cheeks. Amidst the chaos, a little girl with bright pink ribbons in her hair came in. Seeing the big kids playing with the paint, she decided to join in on the fun. Her hands dipped into the orange paint, and she placed them on the teal bookcase we had finished coating 10 minutes earlier.
For a split second, my stomach dropped. But my eyes quickly lit up. I took my paintstained hands and put them right there beside the little girl’s. We both laughed and prepared our impromptu brushes for more fingerpainting. More and more people began to follow her lead. Big handprints next to little ones, we created a masterpiece. Soon the entire shelf was coated in layers of white and orange.
As we looked back at this room, that was once perfectly painted, it was covered in
multicolored handprints of all different sizes. We had quite literally, left our handprints — a few kids from a quaint town in Maine — on this small Dominican community.
In this moment, I realized exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I realized that it doesn’t take much to make a difference. If painting walls and exchanging smiles could make such an impression on an entire community, what more could I do? This has pushed me to pursue a career in the healthcare field, where I can work with children in need of medical attention, in third world countries. I can only imagine how providing a life-changing surgery to a family for their child would compare to simply painting a room in a tiny village. These children have given me a sense of purpose, place, and meaning.
Upon coming home from a long twelve-hour theatre rehearsal, I began to make myself lavender tea to soothe my overworked throat. Tired and disoriented, I knocked my favorite cow mug off the counter shattering it into pieces, flying in disarray.
In denial of the potential fatality of my mug, I plugged in the hot glue gun, ready to repair. Although it was never rehabilitated to sustain all leaks, I was able to repurpose my favorite mug to hold my makeup brushes instead.
In Japanese culture, there is a great influence in tea ceremonies surrounding the preparation and presentation of matcha green tea. As accidents and mistakes are an important part of life, the mugs will experience damage and occasional cracks. Instead of the more obvious choice of replacing the mug, the cracks are filled with gold saving the mug from its own demise. In the wear and tear of the mug’s life, it inherently becomes more beautiful with every addition of the shimmering gold, telling its story. This mindset of “beauty” relying on the imperfect, the impermanent and the incomplete is known as Wabi Sabi.
Just as life leaves its mark on these mugs, life leaves its own marks on individuals’ lives. Although I have experienced my fair share of hardships, I have used these experiences (that had the potential to break me beyond repair) as opportunities to reinvent my character; using it to aid in a redefinition of who I am is as an individual.
Just before I entered my freshman year of high school I was diagnosed with bulimia. It would have been easy to just sweep away my broken pieces, but instead, I allowed it to aid me in telling my own story, creating beauty in this imperfection of my character. Complete control and order was an important aspect of my life and personality growing up. I would cry when my mom replaced the throw pillows on the couch due to my fear of change. This experience of loss of control gave me a new perspective on regulation: One often must go out of his or her way in an attempt to find the order in life. This has prepared me to follow the sense of action over words, initiated by the rest of my generation. I am a strong believer in paving my own way to achieve my goals, doing what’s necessary to land the wanted part in a musical and not expecting life to hand me the things I want.
In channeling my own Wabi Sabi mindset I have allowed for forgiveness and acceptance in the challenges I have and will continue to face. The importance of hardship lies not in the experience itself but in its impact moving forward. My experiences positive and negative have become an important part of who I am and have helped shape who I hope to become. With a greater understanding of how easy it can be to hide these battles from the world, I have gained a new appreciation for the expression; “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”