It’s seven o’clock in the morning and ten degrees below zero outside. I’m freshly sixteen, just having gotten my license and therefore my long anticipated freedom. I go out to my hand-me-down ’87 Suzuki Sidekick about twenty minutes before I have to leave for school to get the old piece to warm up, bettering my chances that it’ll run all the way to school. She’s freshly shined and the navy blue doors are so squeaky clean that you could hardly notice the rust overtaking the whole hood of the car.
I reach for the driver-side door handle and give it a strong tug upwards, breaking way though the icicles. Reaching one foot on to the clutch, the engine hesitates for a moment, but comes around with a little love. I step out and shove the door shut only to hear the clang against the frame as the door bounce back open. The door froze open … again.
Now this isn’t my first rodeo, so I cross my fingers that it’ll thaw by the time I come back, but I know in the back of my mind that it won’t. Once again I find myself rolling into my high school parking lot with the window rolled down to allow my arm to grip the door shut. My goggles, beanie, and wool scarf block me from the cold whip of brisk mountain air and the classic rock radio station distracts my mind from the embarrassing situation.
I was that girl at the high school of a world-class ski resort. While all my closest friends got new Audis and BMW SUVs I was the proud owner of a Suzuki Sidekick, born the same year as me. And though it may have been humiliating at the time, in retrospect it was one of the better character building aspects of my youth.
There are a million words I could use to describe myself. I am a student, a traveler, a journalist, a snowboarder, and a friend. Above all, though, I am an only child who has grown up to be the independent and self-reliant daughter of a single mother. I lost my father to a tragic car accident when I was three years old and have always known that my life would be unlike those of my peers for the rest of my life.
My mother raised me to always count my blessings and never take anything for granted. Therefore I happily drove my less-than-elegant ride and always try to overlook the missing element from my childhood. While it would have been ideal to have a father figure in my life, I know have a hard-working mother who loves me and would do anything to make sure I never go without. I also have great friends and the opportunity to get a good education, which is much more than most people can say.
It boils down to my belief that wisdom and strength are a direct effect of hardship and life experience. Consequently, there is never an excuse for pessimism or negativity when every moment of every day is another opportunity to learn and grow as an individual. My worldview is characterized by striving to achieve this eternal optimism.