Winter 2015: "Letting Go of Worry" Literary Gems

We received many powerful essays for the Winter 2015 Writing Competition. Though not every participant can win the contest, we'd like to share some excerpts that caught our eye.
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Photo by Charlotte Gonzalez, Flickr.


My attention is drawn toward big red letters on the white board that read: TEST TODAY! I quietly shuffle my feet to my desk and all at once the two sides of my brain start to argue. “You studied last night you will be fine!” “What if I fail?” “You will be fine!” “No I won’t!”
—Miranda Benjamin, grade 7, Southward Middle School, Palmetto Bay, Fla.


I needed time to heal, but that didn’t mean I had to soak in my worry. This chapter of my life was dragging on, and I was starting to get pruney fingers.
—Hazel Siff, grade 8, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, Chesterfield, Mass.


The start date of my adult life feels like it is rapidly approaching, and I do not feel prepared in the slightest.
—Nick Epstein, grade 10, Orchard View School, Forestville, Calif.


Every day thousands of people face a problem, and it sparks a worry fire inside of them. They fight this fire with fire, and eventually their whole life is sucked up. Not even Smokey the Bear can save them anymore.
—Sadie Langford, grade 7, West Valley City School, Spokane, Wash.


People see a flawless girl in a gorgeous dress. But I see a girl, frozen with fear, and she’s shivering. Shivering because she can't make a mistake, shivering because she wishes she could be someone else.
—Abby Malzewski, grade 8, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle, Wash.

I often say, “I would rather be five years old than twenty-one,” and all of my friends look at me as if I’m some sort of lunatic. But think about it: when we were five, other people’s opinions of us never mattered. When we were five, we didn’t care about our weight or even knew what “lbs” stood for.
—Priscila Guzman, grade 10, Venture Academy, Stockton, Calif.


The weight of my dreams push down on me while dragging my worries to the surface.
—Dylan Buffington, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, Erie, Penn.


And for trading my uneasiness, in return, I would pack my Goodwill suitcase and hitch a ride to the land of Whitman, meander aimlessly across the open fields of the American Dream, the weeds his hair and I his child.
—Hanna Shambley, grade 12, Tunstall High School, Danville, Va.


Instead of worrying about aliens invading earth, I would replace it with making the earth a better place to live and more hospitable. Instead of worrying if my dad had a key or not, I would replace my worry with finding the key to a happy life and future.
—Chloe DeLisle, grade 8, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, Florence, Mass.


I have a particular relationship with Calculus because rather than I being attacked by it, I attack it before it even has a chance to flinch.
—Valeria Castro Salazar, grade 10, New Tech Academy @ Wayne High School, Fort Wayne, Ind.


OH DADDY, I can't lose you now. You're supposed to take me out to test drive. Be here when I first bring a boy home. Be here to watch me go to prom, to graduate.
—Arcita Gonzalez, grade 11, Venture Academy, Stockton, Calif.


I have seen it all, from the worst grades that seem to be sent up from the dark, foreboding pits of Tartarus to grades that make my heart sing as if it were a warm sunny day over summer break.
—Garrett Friedman, grade 7, Fieldston Middle School, New York, N.Y.


I know it may seem ridiculous, but I would like to replace my worry with being able to see our loved ones pass on into the galaxy as stars. Every time a worrisome soul looked into the sky, they would be able to see those whom they have lost. It would be as if they never really left at all. Anytime the star twinkled it would feel like a smile, or wave, or a comforting hug.
—Niki Johnson, Texas State University, San Marcos, Tex.

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