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Eight brilliant student essays on what matters most in life.

Read winning essays from our spring 2019 student writing contest.

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For the spring 2019 student writing contest, we invited students to read the YES! article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age” by Nancy Hill. Like the author, students interviewed someone significantly older than them about the three things that matter most in life. Students then wrote about what they learned, and about how their interviewees’ answers compare to their own top priorities.

The Winners

From the hundreds of essays written, these eight were chosen as winners. Be sure to read the author’s response to the essay winners and the literary gems that caught our eye. Plus, we share an essay from teacher Charles Sanderson, who also responded to the writing prompt.

Middle School Winner: Rory Leyva

High School Winner:  Praethong Klomsum

University Winner:  Emily Greenbaum

Powerful Voice Winner: Amanda Schwaben

Powerful Voice Winner: Antonia Mills

Powerful Voice Winner:  Isaac Ziemba

Powerful Voice Winner: Lily Hersch

“Tell It Like It Is” Interview Winner: Jonas Buckner

From the Author: Response to Student Winners

Literary Gems

From A Teacher: Charles Sanderson

From the Author: Response to Charles Sanderson

Middle School Winner

Village Home Education Resource Center, Portland, Ore.

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The Lessons Of Mortality 

“As I’ve aged, things that are more personal to me have become somewhat less important. Perhaps I’ve become less self-centered with the awareness of mortality, how short one person’s life is.” This is how my 72-year-old grandma believes her values have changed over the course of her life. Even though I am only 12 years old, I know my life won’t last forever, and someday I, too, will reflect on my past decisions. We were all born to exist and eventually die, so we have evolved to value things in the context of mortality.

One of the ways I feel most alive is when I play roller derby. I started playing for the Rose City Rollers Juniors two years ago, and this year, I made the Rosebud All-Stars travel team. Roller derby is a fast-paced, full-contact sport. The physicality and intense training make me feel in control of and present in my body.

My roller derby team is like a second family to me. Adolescence is complicated. We understand each other in ways no one else can. I love my friends more than I love almost anything else. My family would have been higher on my list a few years ago, but as I’ve aged it has been important to make my own social connections.

Music led me to roller derby.  I started out jam skating at the roller rink. Jam skating is all about feeling the music. It integrates gymnastics, breakdancing, figure skating, and modern dance with R & B and hip hop music. When I was younger, I once lay down in the DJ booth at the roller rink and was lulled to sleep by the drawl of wheels rolling in rhythm and people talking about the things they came there to escape. Sometimes, I go up on the roof of my house at night to listen to music and feel the wind rustle my hair. These unique sensations make me feel safe like nothing else ever has.

My grandma tells me, “Being close with family and friends is the most important thing because I haven’t

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always had that.” When my grandma was two years old, her father died. Her mother became depressed and moved around a lot, which made it hard for my grandma to make friends. Once my grandma went to college, she made lots of friends. She met my grandfather, Joaquin Leyva when she was working as a park ranger and he was a surfer. They bought two acres of land on the edge of a redwood forest and had a son and a daughter. My grandma created a stable family that was missing throughout her early life.

My grandma is motivated to maintain good health so she can be there for her family. I can relate because I have to be fit and strong for my team. Since she lost my grandfather to cancer, she realizes how lucky she is to have a functional body and no life-threatening illnesses. My grandma tries to eat well and exercise, but she still struggles with depression. Over time, she has learned that reaching out to others is essential to her emotional wellbeing.  

Caring for the earth is also a priority for my grandma I’ve been lucky to learn from my grandma. She’s taught me how to hunt for fossils in the desert and find shells on the beach. Although my grandma grew up with no access to the wilderness, she admired the green open areas of urban cemeteries. In college, she studied geology and hiked in the High Sierras. For years, she’s been an advocate for conserving wildlife habitat and open spaces.

Our priorities may seem different, but it all comes down to basic human needs. We all desire a purpose, strive to be happy, and need to be loved. Like Nancy Hill says in the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” it can be hard to decipher what is important in life. I believe that the constant search for satisfaction and meaning is the only thing everyone has in common. We all want to know what matters, and we walk around this confusing world trying to find it. The lessons I’ve learned from my grandma about forging connections, caring for my body, and getting out in the world inspire me to live my life my way before it’s gone.

Rory Leyva is a seventh-grader from Portland, Oregon. Rory skates for the Rosebuds All-Stars roller derby team. She loves listening to music and hanging out with her friends.

High School Winner

Praethong Klomsum

  Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, Calif.

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Time Only Moves Forward

Sandra Hernandez gazed at the tiny house while her mother’s gentle hands caressed her shoulders. It wasn’t much, especially for a family of five. This was 1960, she was 17, and her family had just moved to Culver City.

Flash forward to 2019. Sandra sits in a rocking chair, knitting a blanket for her latest grandchild, in the same living room. Sandra remembers working hard to feed her eight children. She took many different jobs before settling behind the cash register at a Japanese restaurant called Magos. “It was a struggle, and my husband Augustine, was planning to join the military at that time, too.”

In the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” author Nancy Hill states that one of the most important things is “…connecting with others in general, but in particular with those who have lived long lives.” Sandra feels similarly. It’s been hard for Sandra to keep in contact with her family, which leaves her downhearted some days. “It’s important to maintain that connection you have with your family, not just next-door neighbors you talk to once a month.”

Despite her age, Sandra is a daring woman. Taking risks is important to her, and she’ll try anything—from skydiving to hiking. Sandra has some regrets from the past, but nowadays, she doesn’t wonder about the “would have, could have, should haves.” She just goes for it with a smile.

Sandra thought harder about her last important thing, the blue and green blanket now finished and covering

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her lap. “I’ve definitely lived a longer life than most, and maybe this is just wishful thinking, but I hope I can see the day my great-grandchildren are born.” She’s laughing, but her eyes look beyond what’s in front of her. Maybe she is reminiscing about the day she held her son for the first time or thinking of her grandchildren becoming parents. I thank her for her time and she waves it off, offering me a styrofoam cup of lemonade before I head for the bus station.

The bus is sparsely filled. A voice in my head reminds me to finish my 10-page history research paper before spring break. I take a window seat and pull out my phone and earbuds. My playlist is already on shuffle, and I push away thoughts of that dreaded paper. Music has been a constant in my life—from singing my lungs out in kindergarten to Barbie’s “I Need To Know,” to jamming out to Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” in sixth grade, to BTS’s “Intro: Never Mind” comforting me when I’m at my lowest. Music is my magic shop, a place where I can trade away my fears for calm.

I’ve always been afraid of doing something wrong—not finishing my homework or getting a C when I can do better. When I was 8, I wanted to be like the big kids. As I got older, I realized that I had exchanged my childhood longing for the 48 pack of crayons for bigger problems, balancing grades, a social life, and mental stability—all at once. I’m going to get older whether I like it or not, so there’s no point forcing myself to grow up faster.  I’m learning to live in the moment.

The bus is approaching my apartment, where I know my comfy bed and a home-cooked meal from my mom are waiting. My mom is hard-working, confident, and very stubborn. I admire her strength of character. She always keeps me in line, even through my rebellious phases.

My best friend sends me a text—an update on how broken her laptop is. She is annoying. She says the stupidest things and loves to state the obvious. Despite this, she never fails to make me laugh until my cheeks feel numb. The rest of my friends are like that too—loud, talkative, and always brightening my day. Even friends I stopped talking to have a place in my heart. Recently, I’ve tried to reconnect with some of them. This interview was possible because a close friend from sixth grade offered to introduce me to Sandra, her grandmother.  

I’m decades younger than Sandra, so my view of what’s important isn’t as broad as hers, but we share similar values, with friends and family at the top. I have a feeling that when Sandra was my age, she used to love music, too. Maybe in a few decades, when I’m sitting in my rocking chair, drawing in my sketchbook, I’ll remember this article and think back fondly to the days when life was simple.

Praethong Klomsum is a tenth-grader at Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California.  Praethong has a strange affinity for rhyme games and is involved in her school’s dance team. She enjoys drawing and writing, hoping to impact people willing to listen to her thoughts and ideas.

University Winner

Emily Greenbaum

Kent State University, Kent, Ohio 

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The Life-Long War

Every morning we open our eyes, ready for a new day. Some immediately turn to their phones and social media. Others work out or do yoga. For a certain person, a deep breath and the morning sun ground him. He hears the clink-clank of his wife cooking low sodium meat for breakfast—doctor’s orders! He sees that the other side of the bed is already made, the dogs are no longer in the room, and his clothes are set out nicely on the loveseat.

Today, though, this man wakes up to something different: faded cream walls and jello. This person, my hero, is Master Chief Petty Officer Roger James.

I pulled up my chair close to Roger’s vinyl recliner so I could hear him above the noise of the beeping dialysis machine. I noticed Roger would occasionally glance at his wife Susan with sparkly eyes when he would recall memories of the war or their grandkids. He looked at Susan like she walked on water.

Roger James served his country for thirty years. Now, he has enlisted in another type of war. He suffers from a rare blood cancer—the result of the wars he fought in. Roger has good and bad days. He says, “The good outweighs the bad, so I have to be grateful for what I have on those good days.”

When Roger retired, he never thought the effects of the war would reach him. The once shallow wrinkles upon his face become deeper, as he tells me, “It’s just cancer. Others are suffering from far worse. I know I’ll make it.”

Like Nancy Hill did in her article “Three Things that Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” I asked Roger, “What are the three most important things to you?” James answered, “My wife Susan, my grandkids, and church.”

Roger and Susan served together in the Vietnam war. She was a nurse who treated his cuts and scrapes one day. I asked Roger why he chose Susan. He said, “Susan told me to look at her while she cleaned me up. ‘This may sting, but don’t be a baby.’ When I looked into her eyes, I felt like she was looking into my soul, and I didn’t want her to leave. She gave me this sense of home. Every day I wake up, she makes me feel the same way, and I fall in love with her all over again.”

Roger and Susan have two kids and four grandkids, with great-grandchildren on the way. He claims that his grandkids give him the youth that he feels slowly escaping from his body. This adoring grandfather is energized by coaching t-ball and playing evening card games with the grandkids.

The last thing on his list was church. His oldest daughter married a pastor. Together they founded a church. Roger said that the connection between his faith and family is important to him because it gave him a reason to want to live again. I learned from Roger that when you’re across the ocean, you tend to lose sight of why you are fighting. When Roger returned, he didn’t have the will to live. Most days were a struggle, adapting back into a society that lacked empathy for the injuries, pain, and psychological trauma carried by returning soldiers. Church changed that for Roger and gave him a sense of purpose.

When I began this project, my attitude was to just get the assignment done. I never thought I could view Master Chief Petty Officer Roger James as more than a role model, but he definitely changed my mind. It’s as if Roger magically lit a fire inside of me and showed me where one’s true passions should lie. I see our similarities and embrace our differences. We both value family and our own connections to home—his home being church and mine being where I can breathe the easiest.

Master Chief Petty Officer Roger James has shown me how to appreciate what I have around me and that every once in a while, I should step back and stop to smell the roses. As we concluded the interview, amidst squeaky clogs and the stale smell of bleach and bedpans, I looked to Roger, his kind, tired eyes, and weathered skin, with a deeper sense of admiration, knowing that his values still run true, no matter what he faces.

Emily Greenbaum is a senior at Kent State University, graduating with a major in Conflict Management and minor in Geography. Emily hopes to use her major to facilitate better conversations, while she works in the Washington, D.C. area.  

Powerful Voice Winner

Amanda Schwaben

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Wise Words From Winnie the Pooh

As I read through Nancy Hill’s article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” I was comforted by the similar responses given by both children and older adults. The emphasis participants placed on family, social connections, and love was not only heartwarming but hopeful. While the messages in the article filled me with warmth, I felt a twinge of guilt building within me. As a twenty-one-year-old college student weeks from graduation, I honestly don’t think much about the most important things in life. But if I was asked, I would most likely say family, friendship, and love. As much as I hate to admit it, I often find myself obsessing over achieving a successful career and finding a way to “save the world.”

A few weeks ago, I was at my family home watching the new Winnie the Pooh movie Christopher Robin with my mom and younger sister. Well, I wasn’t really watching. I had my laptop in front of me, and I was aggressively typing up an assignment. Halfway through the movie, I realized I left my laptop charger in my car. I walked outside into the brisk March air. Instinctively, I looked up. The sky was perfectly clear, revealing a beautiful array of stars. When my twin sister and I were in high school, we would always take a moment to look up at the sparkling night sky before we came into the house after soccer practice.

I think that was the last time I stood in my driveway and gazed at the stars. I did not get the laptop charger from

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my car; instead, I turned around and went back inside. I shut my laptop and watched the rest of the movie. My twin sister loves Winnie the Pooh. So much so that my parents got her a stuffed animal version of him for Christmas. While I thought he was adorable and a token of my childhood, I did not really understand her obsession. However, it was clear to me after watching the movie. Winnie the Pooh certainly had it figured out. He believed that the simple things in life were the most important: love, friendship, and having fun.

I thought about asking my mom right then what the three most important things were to her, but I decided not to. I just wanted to be in the moment. I didn’t want to be doing homework. It was a beautiful thing to just sit there and be present with my mom and sister.

I did ask her, though, a couple of weeks later. Her response was simple.  All she said was family, health, and happiness. When she told me this, I imagined Winnie the Pooh smiling. I think he would be proud of that answer.

I was not surprised by my mom’s reply. It suited her perfectly. I wonder if we relearn what is most important when we grow older—that the pressure to be successful subsides. Could it be that valuing family, health, and happiness is what ends up saving the world?

Amanda Schwaben is a graduating senior from Kent State University with a major in Applied Conflict Management. Amanda also has minors in Psychology and Interpersonal Communication. She hopes to further her education and focus on how museums not only preserve history but also promote peace.

Antonia Mills

Rachel Carson High School, Brooklyn, N.Y. 

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Decoding The Butterfly

For a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it must first digest itself. The caterpillar, overwhelmed by accumulating tissue, splits its skin open to form its protective shell, the chrysalis, and later becomes the pretty butterfly we all know and love. There are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies, and just as every species is different, so is the life of every butterfly. No matter how long and hard a caterpillar has strived to become the colorful and vibrant butterfly that we marvel at on a warm spring day, it does not live a long life. A butterfly can live for a year, six months, two weeks, and even as little as twenty-four hours.

I have often wondered if butterflies live long enough to be blissful of blue skies. Do they take time to feast upon the sweet nectar they crave, midst their hustling life of pollinating pretty flowers? Do they ever take a lull in their itineraries, or are they always rushing towards completing their four-stage metamorphosis? Has anyone asked the butterfly, “Who are you?” instead of “What are you”? Or, How did you get here, on my windowsill?  How did you become ‘you’?

Humans are similar to butterflies. As a caterpillar

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Suzanna Ruby/Getty Images

becomes a butterfly, a baby becomes an elder. As a butterfly soars through summer skies, an elder watches summer skies turn into cold winter nights and back toward summer skies yet again.  And as a butterfly flits slowly by the porch light, a passerby makes assumptions about the wrinkled, slow-moving elder, who is sturdier than he appears. These creatures are not seen for who they are—who they were—because people have “better things to do” or they are too busy to ask, “How are you”?

Our world can be a lonely place. Pressured by expectations, haunted by dreams, overpowered by weakness, and drowned out by lofty goals, we tend to forget ourselves—and others. Rather than hang onto the strands of our diminishing sanity, we might benefit from listening to our elders. Many elders have experienced setbacks in their young lives. Overcoming hardship and surviving to old age is wisdom that they carry.  We can learn from them—and can even make their day by taking the time to hear their stories.  

Nancy Hill, who wrote the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” was right: “We live among such remarkable people, yet few know their stories.” I know a lot about my grandmother’s life, and it isn’t as serene as my own. My grandmother, Liza, who cooks every day, bakes bread on holidays for our neighbors, brings gifts to her doctor out of the kindness of her heart, and makes conversation with neighbors even though she is isn’t fluent in English—Russian is her first language—has struggled all her life. Her mother, Anna, a single parent, had tuberculosis, and even though she had an inviolable spirit, she was too frail to care for four children. She passed away when my grandmother was sixteen, so my grandmother and her siblings spent most of their childhood in an orphanage. My grandmother got married at nineteen to my grandfather, Pinhas. He was a man who loved her more than he loved himself and was a godsend to every person he met. Liza was—and still is—always quick to do what was best for others, even if that person treated her poorly. My grandmother has lived with physical pain all her life, yet she pushed herself to climb heights that she wasn’t ready for. Against all odds, she has lived to tell her story to people who are willing to listen. And I always am.

I asked my grandmother, “What are three things most important to you?” Her answer was one that I already expected: One, for everyone to live long healthy lives. Two, for you to graduate from college. Three, for you to always remember that I love you.

What may be basic to you means the world to my grandmother. She just wants what she never had the chance to experience: a healthy life, an education, and the chance to express love to the people she values. The three things that matter most to her may be so simple and ordinary to outsiders, but to her, it is so much more. And who could take that away?

Antonia Mills was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and attends Rachel Carson High School.  Antonia enjoys creative activities, including writing, painting, reading, and baking. She hopes to pursue culinary arts professionally in the future. One of her favorite quotes is, “When you start seeing your worth, you’ll find it harder to stay around people who don’t.” -Emily S.P.  

  Powerful Voice Winner

   Isaac Ziemba

Odyssey Multiage Program, Bainbridge Island, Wash. 

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This Former State Trooper Has His Priorities Straight: Family, Climate Change, and Integrity

I have a personal connection to people who served in the military and first responders. My uncle is a first responder on the island I live on, and my dad retired from the Navy. That was what made a man named Glen Tyrell, a state trooper for 25 years, 2 months and 9 days, my first choice to interview about what three things matter in life. In the YES! Magazine article “The Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” I learned that old and young people have a great deal in common. I know that’s true because Glen and I care about a lot of the same things.

For Glen, family is at the top of his list of important things. “My wife was, and is, always there for me. My daughters mean the world to me, too, but Penny is my partner,” Glen said. I can understand why Glen’s wife is so important to him. She’s family. Family will always be there for you.

Glen loves his family, and so do I with all my heart. My dad especially means the world to me. He is my top supporter and tells me that if I need help, just “say the word.” When we are fishing or crabbing, sometimes I

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think, what if these times were erased from my memory? I wouldn’t be able to describe the horrible feeling that would rush through my mind, and I’m sure that Glen would feel the same about his wife.

My uncle once told me that the world is always going to change over time. It’s what the world has turned out to be that worries me. Both Glen and I are extremely concerned about climate change and the effect that rising temperatures have on animals and their habitats. We’re driving them to extinction. Some people might say, “So what? Animals don’t pay taxes or do any of the things we do.” What we are doing to them is like the Black Death times 100.

Glen is also frustrated by how much plastic we use and where it ends up. He would be shocked that an explorer recently dived to the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean—seven miles!— and discovered a plastic bag and candy wrappers. Glen told me that, unfortunately, his generation did the damage and my generation is here to fix it. We need to take better care of Earth because if we don’t, we, as a species, will have failed.

Both Glen and I care deeply for our families and the earth, but for our third important value, I chose education and Glen chose integrity. My education is super important to me because without it, I would be a blank slate. I wouldn’t know how to figure out problems. I wouldn’t be able to tell right from wrong. I wouldn’t understand the Bill of Rights. I would be stuck. Everyone should be able to go to school, no matter where they’re from or who they are.  It makes me angry and sad to think that some people, especially girls, get shot because they are trying to go to school. I understand how lucky I am.

Integrity is sacred to Glen—I could tell by the serious tone of Glen’s voice when he told me that integrity was the code he lived by as a former state trooper. He knew that he had the power to change a person’s life, and he was committed to not abusing that power.  When Glen put someone under arrest—and my uncle says the same—his judgment and integrity were paramount. “Either you’re right or you’re wrong.” You can’t judge a person by what you think, you can only judge a person from what you know.”

I learned many things about Glen and what’s important in life, but there is one thing that stands out—something Glen always does and does well. Glen helps people. He did it as a state trooper, and he does it in our school, where he works on construction projects. Glen told me that he believes that our most powerful tools are writing and listening to others. I think those tools are important, too, but I also believe there are other tools to help solve many of our problems and create a better future: to be compassionate, to create caring relationships, and to help others. Just like Glen Tyrell does each and every day.

Isaac Ziemba is in seventh grade at the Odyssey Multiage Program on a small island called Bainbridge near Seattle, Washington. Isaac’s favorite subject in school is history because he has always been interested in how the past affects the future. In his spare time, you can find Isaac hunting for crab with his Dad, looking for artifacts around his house with his metal detector, and having fun with his younger cousin, Conner.     

Lily Hersch

 The Crest Academy, Salida, Colo.

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The Phone Call

Dear Grandpa,

In my short span of life—12 years so far—you’ve taught me a lot of important life lessons that I’ll always have with me. Some of the values I talk about in this writing I’ve learned from you.

Dedicated to my Gramps.

In the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” author and photographer Nancy Hill asked people to name the three things that mattered most to them. After reading the essay prompt for the article, I immediately knew who I wanted to interview: my grandpa Gil.      

My grandpa was born on January 25, 1942. He lived in a minuscule tenement in The Bronx with his mother,

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father, and brother. His father wasn’t around much, and, when he was, he was reticent and would snap occasionally, revealing his constrained mental pain. My grandpa says this happened because my great grandfather did not have a father figure in his life. His mother was a classy, sharp lady who was the head secretary at a local police district station. My grandpa and his brother Larry did not care for each other. Gramps said he was very close to his mother, and Larry wasn’t. Perhaps Larry was envious for what he didn’t have.

Decades after little to no communication with his brother, my grandpa decided to spontaneously visit him in Florida, where he resided with his wife. Larry was taken aback at the sudden reappearance of his brother and told him to leave. Since then, the two brothers have not been in contact. My grandpa doesn’t even know if Larry is alive.         

My grandpa is now a retired lawyer, married to my wonderful grandma, and living in a pretty house with an ugly dog named BoBo.

So, what’s important to you, Gramps?

He paused a second, then replied, “Family, kindness, and empathy.”

“Family, because it’s my family. It’s important to stay connected with your family. My brother, father, and I never connected in the way I wished, and sometimes I contemplated what could’ve happened.  But you can’t change the past. So, that’s why family’s important to me.”

Family will always be on my “Top Three Most Important Things” list, too. I can’t imagine not having my older brother, Zeke, or my grandma in my life. I wonder how other kids feel about their families? How do kids trapped and separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border feel?  What about orphans? Too many questions, too few answers.

“Kindness, because growing up and not seeing a lot of kindness made me realize how important it is to have that in the world. Kindness makes the world go round.”

What is kindness? Helping my brother, Eli, who has Down syndrome, get ready in the morning? Telling people what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear? Maybe, for now, I’ll put wisdom, not kindness, on my list.

“Empathy, because of all the killings and shootings [in this country.] We also need to care for people—people who are not living in as good circumstances as I have. Donald Trump and other people I’ve met have no empathy. Empathy is very important.”

Empathy is something I’ve felt my whole life. It’ll always be important to me like it is important to my grandpa. My grandpa shows his empathy when he works with disabled children. Once he took a disabled child to a Christina Aguilera concert because that child was too young to go by himself. The moments I feel the most empathy are when Eli gets those looks from people. Seeing Eli wonder why people stare at him like he’s a freak makes me sad, and annoyed that they have the audacity to stare.

After this 2 minute and 36-second phone call, my grandpa has helped me define what’s most important to me at this time in my life: family, wisdom, and empathy. Although these things are important now, I realize they can change and most likely will.

When I’m an old woman, I envision myself scrambling through a stack of storage boxes and finding this paper. Perhaps after reading words from my 12-year-old self, I’ll ask myself “What’s important to me?”

Lily Hersch is a sixth-grader at Crest Academy in Salida, Colorado. Lily is an avid indoorsman, finding joy in competitive spelling, art, and of course, writing. She does not like Swiss cheese.

  “Tell It Like It Is” Interview Winner

Jonas Buckner

KIPP: Gaston College Preparatory, Gaston, N.C.

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Lessons My Nana Taught Me

I walked into the house. In the other room, I heard my cousin screaming at his game. There were a lot of Pioneer Woman dishes everywhere. The room had the television on max volume. The fan in the other room was on. I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to learn something powerful.

I was in my Nana’s house, and when I walked in, she said, “Hey Monkey Butt.”

I said, “Hey Nana.”

Before the interview, I was talking to her about what I was gonna interview her on. Also, I had asked her why I might have wanted to interview her, and she responded with, “Because you love me, and I love you too.”

Now, it was time to start the interview. The first

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question I asked was the main and most important question ever: “What three things matter most to you and you only?”

She thought of it very thoughtfully and responded with, “My grandchildren, my children, and my health.”

Then, I said, “OK, can you please tell me more about your health?”

She responded with, “My health is bad right now. I have heart problems, blood sugar, and that’s about it.” When she said it, she looked at me and smiled because she loved me and was happy I chose her to interview.

I replied with, “K um, why is it important to you?”

She smiled and said, “Why is it…Why is my health important? Well, because I want to live a long time and see my grandchildren grow up.”

I was scared when she said that, but she still smiled. I was so happy, and then I said, “Has your health always been important to you.”

She responded with “Nah.”

Then, I asked, “Do you happen to have a story to help me understand your reasoning?”

She said, “No, not really.”

Now we were getting into the next set of questions. I said, “Remember how you said that your grandchildren matter to you? Can you please tell me why they matter to you?”

Then, she responded with, “So I can spend time with them, play with them, and everything.”

Next, I asked the same question I did before: “Have you always loved your grandchildren?” 

She responded with, “Yes, they have always been important to me.”

Then, the next two questions I asked she had no response to at all. She was very happy until I asked, “Why do your children matter most to you?”

She had a frown on and responded, “My daughter Tammy died a long time ago.”

Then, at this point, the other questions were answered the same as the other ones. When I left to go home I was thinking about how her answers were similar to mine. She said health, and I care about my health a lot, and I didn’t say, but I wanted to. She also didn’t have answers for the last two questions on each thing, and I was like that too.

The lesson I learned was that no matter what, always keep pushing because even though my aunt or my Nana’s daughter died, she kept on pushing and loving everyone. I also learned that everything should matter to us. Once again, I chose to interview my Nana because she matters to me, and I know when she was younger she had a lot of things happen to her, so I wanted to know what she would say. The point I’m trying to make is that be grateful for what you have and what you have done in life.

Jonas Buckner is a sixth-grader at KIPP: Gaston College Preparatory in Gaston, North Carolina. Jonas’ favorite activities are drawing, writing, math, piano, and playing AltSpace VR. He found his passion for writing in fourth grade when he wrote a quick autobiography. Jonas hopes to become a horror writer someday.

From The Author: Responses to Student Winners

Dear Emily, Isaac, Antonia, Rory, Praethong, Amanda, Lily, and Jonas,

Your thought-provoking essays sent my head spinning. The more I read, the more impressed I was with the depth of thought, beauty of expression, and originality. It left me wondering just how to capture all of my reactions in a single letter. After multiple false starts, I’ve landed on this: I will stick to the theme of three most important things.

The three things I found most inspirational about your essays:

You listened.

You connected.

We live in troubled times. Tensions mount between countries, cultures, genders, religious beliefs, and generations. If we fail to find a way to understand each other, to see similarities between us, the future will be fraught with increased hostility.

You all took critical steps toward connecting with someone who might not value the same things you do by asking a person who is generations older than you what matters to them. Then, you listened to their answers. You saw connections between what is important to them and what is important to you. Many of you noted similarities, others wondered if your own list of the three most important things would change as you go through life. You all saw the validity of the responses you received and looked for reasons why your interviewees have come to value what they have.

It is through these things—asking, listening, and connecting—that we can begin to bridge the differences in experiences and beliefs that are currently dividing us.

Individual observations

Each one of you made observations that all of us, regardless of age or experience, would do well to keep in mind. I chose one quote from each person and trust those reading your essays will discover more valuable insights.

“Our priorities may seem different, but they come back to basic human needs. We all desire a purpose, strive to be happy, and work to make a positive impact.” 

“You can’t judge a person by what you think , you can only judge a person by what you know .”

Emily (referencing your interviewee, who is battling cancer):

“Master Chief Petty Officer James has shown me how to appreciate what I have around me.”

Lily (quoting your grandfather):

“Kindness makes the world go round.”

“Everything should matter to us.”

Praethong (quoting your interviewee, Sandra, on the importance of family):

“It’s important to always maintain that connection you have with each other, your family, not just next-door neighbors you talk to once a month.”

“I wonder if maybe we relearn what is most important when we grow older. That the pressure to be successful subsides and that valuing family, health, and happiness is what ends up saving the world.”

“Listen to what others have to say. Listen to the people who have already experienced hardship. You will learn from them and you can even make their day by giving them a chance to voice their thoughts.”

I end this letter to you with the hope that you never stop asking others what is most important to them and that you to continue to take time to reflect on what matters most to you…and why. May you never stop asking, listening, and connecting with others, especially those who may seem to be unlike you. Keep writing, and keep sharing your thoughts and observations with others, for your ideas are awe-inspiring.

I also want to thank the more than 1,000 students who submitted essays. Together, by sharing what’s important to us with others, especially those who may believe or act differently, we can fill the world with joy, peace, beauty, and love.

We received many outstanding essays for the Winter 2019 Student Writing Competition. Though not every participant can win the contest, we’d like to share some excerpts that caught our eye:

Whether it is a painting on a milky canvas with watercolors or pasting photos onto a scrapbook with her granddaughters, it is always a piece of artwork to her. She values the things in life that keep her in the moment, while still exploring things she may not have initially thought would bring her joy.

—Ondine Grant-Krasno, Immaculate Heart Middle School, Los Angeles, Calif.

“Ganas”… It means “desire” in Spanish. My ganas is fueled by my family’s belief in me. I cannot and will not fail them. 

—Adan Rios, Lane Community College, Eugene, Ore.

I hope when I grow up I can have the love for my kids like my grandma has for her kids. She makes being a mother even more of a beautiful thing than it already is.

—Ashley Shaw, Columbus City Prep School for Girls, Grove City, Ohio

You become a collage of little pieces of your friends and family. They also encourage you to be the best you can be. They lift you up onto the seat of your bike, they give you the first push, and they don’t hesitate to remind you that everything will be alright when you fall off and scrape your knee.

— Cecilia Stanton, Bellafonte Area Middle School, Bellafonte, Pa.

Without good friends, I wouldn’t know what I would do to endure the brutal machine of public education.

—Kenneth Jenkins, Garrison Middle School, Walla Walla, Wash.

My dog, as ridiculous as it may seem, is a beautiful example of what we all should aspire to be. We should live in the moment, not stress, and make it our goal to lift someone’s spirits, even just a little.

—Kate Garland, Immaculate Heart Middle School, Los Angeles, Calif. 

I strongly hope that every child can spare more time to accompany their elderly parents when they are struggling, and moving forward, and give them more care and patience. so as to truly achieve the goal of “you accompany me to grow up, and I will accompany you to grow old.”

—Taiyi Li, Lane Community College, Eugene, Ore.

I have three cats, and they are my brothers and sisters. We share a special bond that I think would not be possible if they were human. Since they do not speak English, we have to find other ways to connect, and I think that those other ways can be more powerful than language.

—Maya Dombroskie, Delta Program Middle School, Boulsburg, Pa.

We are made to love and be loved. To have joy and be relational. As a member of the loneliest generation in possibly all of history, I feel keenly aware of the need for relationships and authentic connection. That is why I decided to talk to my grandmother.

—Luke Steinkamp, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

After interviewing my grandma and writing my paper, I realized that as we grow older, the things that are important to us don’t change, what changes is why those things are important to us.

—Emily Giffer, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.

The media works to marginalize elders, often isolating them and their stories, and the wealth of knowledge that comes with their additional years of lived experiences. It also undermines the depth of children’s curiosity and capacity to learn and understand. When the worlds of elders and children collide, a classroom opens.

—Cristina Reitano, City College of San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif.

My values, although similar to my dad, only looked the same in the sense that a shadow is similar to the object it was cast on.

—Timofey Lisenskiy, Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, Calif.

I can release my anger through writing without having to take it out on someone. I can escape and be a different person; it feels good not to be myself for a while. I can make up my own characters, so I can be someone different every day, and I think that’s pretty cool.

—Jasua Carillo, Wellness, Business, and Sports School, Woodburn, Ore. 

Notice how all the important things in his life are people: the people who he loves and who love him back. This is because “people are more important than things like money or possessions, and families are treasures,” says grandpa Pat. And I couldn’t agree more.

—Brody Hartley, Garrison Middle School, Walla Walla, Wash.  

Curiosity for other people’s stories could be what is needed to save the world.

—Noah Smith, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Peace to me is a calm lake without a ripple in sight. It’s a starry night with a gentle breeze that pillows upon your face. It’s the absence of arguments, fighting, or war. It’s when egos stop working against each other and finally begin working with each other. Peace is free from fear, anxiety, and depression. To me, peace is an important ingredient in the recipe of life.

—JP Bogan, Lane Community College, Eugene, Ore.

From A Teacher

Charles Sanderson

Wellness, Business and Sports School, Woodburn, Ore. 

most life changing essays

The Birthday Gift

I’ve known Jodelle for years, watching her grow from a quiet and timid twelve-year-old to a young woman who just returned from India, where she played Kabaddi, a kind of rugby meets Red Rover.

One of my core beliefs as an educator is to show up for the things that matter to kids, so I go to their games, watch their plays, and eat the strawberry jam they make for the county fair. On this occasion, I met Jodelle at a robotics competition to watch her little sister Abby compete. Think Nerd Paradise: more hats made from traffic cones than Golden State Warrior ball caps, more unicorn capes than Nike swooshes, more fanny packs with Legos than clutches with eyeliner.

We started chatting as the crowd chanted and waved six-foot flags for teams like Mystic Biscuits, Shrek, and everyone’s nemesis The Mean Machine. Apparently, when it’s time for lunch at a robotics competition, they don’t mess around. The once-packed gym was left to Jodelle and me, and we kept talking and talking. I eventually asked her about the three things that matter to her most.

She told me about her mom, her sister, and her addiction—to horses. I’ve read enough of her writing to know that horses were her drug of choice and her mom and sister were her support network.

I learned about her desire to become a teacher and how hours at the barn with her horse, Heart, recharge her when she’s exhausted. At one point, our rambling conversation turned to a topic I’ve known far too well—her father.

Later that evening, I received an email from Jodelle, and she had a lot to say. One line really struck me: “In so many movies, I have seen a dad wanting to protect his daughter from the world, but I’ve only understood the scene cognitively. Yesterday, I felt it.”

Long ago, I decided that I would never be a dad. I had seen movies with fathers and daughters, and for me, those movies might as well have been Star Wars, ET, or Alien—worlds filled with creatures I’d never know. However, over the years, I’ve attended Jodelle’s parent-teacher conferences, gone to her graduation, and driven hours to watch her ride Heart at horse shows. Simply, I showed up. I listened. I supported.

Jodelle shared a series of dad poems, as well. I had read the first two poems in their original form when Jodelle was my student. The revised versions revealed new graphic details of her past. The third poem, however, was something entirely different.

She called the poems my early birthday present. When I read the lines “You are my father figure/Who I look up to/Without being looked down on,” I froze for an instant and had to reread the lines. After fifty years of consciously deciding not to be a dad, I was seen as one—and it felt incredible. Jodelle’s poem and recognition were two of the best presents I’ve ever received.

I  know that I was the language arts teacher that Jodelle needed at the time, but her poem revealed things I never knew I taught her: “My father figure/ Who taught me/ That listening is for observing the world/ That listening is for learning/Not obeying/Writing is for connecting/Healing with others.”

Teaching is often a thankless job, one that frequently brings more stress and anxiety than joy and hope. Stress erodes my patience. Anxiety curtails my ability to enter each interaction with every student with the grace they deserve. However, my time with Jodelle reminds me of the importance of leaning in and listening.

In the article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age” by Nancy Hill, she illuminates how we “live among such remarkable people, yet few know their stories.” For the last twenty years, I’ve had the privilege to work with countless of these “remarkable people,” and I’ve done my best to listen, and, in so doing, I hope my students will realize what I’ve known for a long time; their voices matter and deserve to be heard, but the voices of their tias and abuelitos and babushkas are equally important. When we take the time to listen, I believe we do more than affirm the humanity of others; we affirm our own as well.

Charles Sanderson has grounded his nineteen-year teaching career in a philosophy he describes as “Mirror, Window, Bridge.” Charles seeks to ensure all students see themselves, see others, and begin to learn the skills to build bridges of empathy, affinity, and understanding between communities and cultures that may seem vastly different. He proudly teaches at the Wellness, Business and Sports School in Woodburn, Oregon, a school and community that brings him joy and hope on a daily basis.

From   The Author: Response to Charles Sanderson

Dear Charles Sanderson,

Thank you for submitting an essay of your own in addition to encouraging your students to participate in YES! Magazine’s essay contest.

Your essay focused not on what is important to you, but rather on what is important to one of your students. You took what mattered to her to heart, acting upon it by going beyond the school day and creating a connection that has helped fill a huge gap in her life. Your efforts will affect her far beyond her years in school. It is clear that your involvement with this student is far from the only time you have gone beyond the classroom, and while you are not seeking personal acknowledgment, I cannot help but applaud you.

In an ideal world, every teacher, every adult, would show the same interest in our children and adolescents that you do. By taking the time to listen to what is important to our youth, we can help them grow into compassionate, caring adults, capable of making our world a better place.

Your concerted efforts to guide our youth to success not only as students but also as human beings is commendable. May others be inspired by your insights, concerns, and actions. You define excellence in teaching.

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17 Personal Essays That Will Change Your Life

Think essays are just something boring you write for class? These masterpieces will make you totally reconsider.

Sandy Allen

BuzzFeed News Reporter

1. "Goodbye To All That" – Joan Didion

most life changing essays

The final piece in one of her two most beloved collections, Slouching Towards Bethlehem , this essay contains everything there is to love about Didion — her sharp eye, her unbelievable concision, her expression of emotions that are real and contradictory. It follows her arrival in New York and her departure eight years later, and in so doing discusses the city and youth — and the romantic lies that both are. She writes: "... I was in love with New York. I do not mean 'love' in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and never love anyone quite that way again."

2. "Mr. Lytle, an Essay" – John Jeremiah Sullivan

most life changing essays

Sullivan has become one of the most talked about magazine writers of the last few years. This piece, which you can read online at the Paris Review , and was collected in his highly recommended book, Pulphead , is one of his best. It discusses, with such grace, being mentored in his twenties by once-famous Southern Renaissance writer Andrew Lytle. It's a meditation on art and futility, the Old South, and the sheer strangeness that can be relationships between men.

3. "Once More to the Lake" – E.B. White

most life changing essays

Recognized for his children's literature (including Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web ) and popularizing Strunk's The Elements of Style , White was also an accomplished essayist. "Once More to the Lake" follows White and his son to Maine, where they spend a week along the same lake White visited with his father as a boy. It is one of the most moving reflections upon fatherhood, summertime, America, and mortality ever crafted. You can find it in many anthologies and in The Collected Essays of E.B. White .

4. "Ticket to the Fair" – David Foster Wallace

most life changing essays

Those who knock Wallace for his verbosity — or associate him merely with a liberal use of footnotes — haven't read one of his classic essays through to the end. This one, which you can read online at Harper's or in his collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again , follows him home to Illinois, specifically to the state fair there. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and almost ridiculous in its level of detail, it explores the author's fractured identity, the Midwest versus the East Coast, and the American experience at large.

5. "A Few Words About Breasts" – Nora Ephron

most life changing essays

Published in Esquire in 1975, this is the best-known essay by the late, great screenwriter and essayist. While she renders the experience of being flat-chested in the '50s with incredible humor and pathos, it is the essay's ending — the shock of it — that makes this unforgettable.

6. "Self-Reliance" — Ralph Waldo Emerson

most life changing essays

One of Emerson's most influential essays, you can read it online or in nearly every collection of his works. While his prose's formality may be a shock at first, what he says he says with great clarity and to the great empowerment of his reader. It is a declaration of the fact that true happiness, in oneself and all relationships, must spurn from self-love and honest expression: "I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should."

7. "Here Is a Lesson in Creative Writing" – Kurt Vonnegut

most life changing essays

Though it's collected in his great and final collection of essays, Man Without a Country , you can read an adaptation online at Lapham's Quarterly . While it's a must-read for aspiring creative writers, it's about more than writing — much, much more — despite its brevity and characteristic Vonnegut wit. It opens with the best slam of the semicolon ever.

8. "Notes of a Native Son" – James Baldwin

most life changing essays

The titular essay from this collection — which honestly you should just read — is an ambitious and candid discussion of the passing of his father during a time of great racial turmoil. It opens: "On the twenty-ninth of July, in 1943, my father died. On the same day, a few hours later, his last child was born. Over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for these events, there had been, in Detroit, one of the bloodiest race riots of the century. A few hours after my father's funeral, while he lay in state in the undertaker's chapel, a race riot broke out in Harlem. In the morning of the third of August, we drove my father through the graveyard through a wilderness of smashed glass."

9. "The Invisible Made Visible" – David Rakoff

most life changing essays

David Rakoff died a little over a year ago at the too-early age of 47. Just a few months prior, he read this essay about his cancer, his imminent death, and dancing, aloud as part of This American Life 's live show. As always with Rakoff's work, it was funny, painful, and revealed the author's intense love of the English language. Warning: When you watch this video , you will laugh audibly, several times, and you might cry.

10. "The Death of a Moth" – Virginia Woolf

most life changing essays

The briefest — and perhaps densest — essay on this list, "The Death of the Moth," on its face, is about exactly that: Woolf notices a moth caught in her window and witnesses its death. Read it online and then read it again, and again.

11. "Total Eclipse " – Annie Dillard

most life changing essays

This much-anthologized meditation follows Dillard and her husband as they drive to a mountaintop in Washington to witness a total eclipse — that rare event when the sun becomes entirely obscured, turning day briefly into night. Dillard's rendering of this experience showcases her enviable abilities to both observe and describe. It's collected in Teaching a Stone to Talk .

12. "Sliver of Sky" – Barry Lopez

most life changing essays

Well-known nature writer Barry Lopez shocked many when he published this essay in January, in which he confessed being raped throughout his adolescence by his mother's sometime boyfriend. It is an affecting and horrifying portrait of what it is to be a victim of sexual abuse. Unfortunately you do have to be a Harper's subscriber to read it (for now).

13. "Shooting an Elephant" — George Orwell

most life changing essays

Prior to penning 1984 and Animal Farm , Orwell was posted as a policeman in Burma, where he once had to shoot a rampaging elephant. The resultant essay, published in 1936, is a condemnation of imperialism — and his own selfish desire to not be implicated by it. Read it online or find it in the collection of the same title .

14. "Shipping Out" — David Foster Wallace

most life changing essays

Yes, Wallace deserves two on this list. Also collected in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and originally published in Harper's , this is another travelogue turned existential rumination that shows unabashedly and hilariously the horrors of society (this time via a cruise ship) and really says more about the author himself.

15. "The Braindead Megaphone" – George Saunders

most life changing essays

Saunders is more famous for his fiction (like many of the folks on this list) but that doesn't mean his essays are not fantastic. The first in the eponymous collection , "The Braindead Megaphone" takes on the current political and media climate in America that will make you shake your head in a I've-always-thought-that-but-never-really-put-it-that-way-myself way.

16. "We Do Abortions Here" — Sallie Tisdale

most life changing essays

Tisdale was a nurse at an abortion clinic when she published this essay in 1987. She writes honestly and movingly about something she knows few want to think let alone read about. "There is a numbing sameness lurking in this job," she says, "the same questions, the same answers, even the same trembling tone in the voices. The worst is the sameness of human failure, of inadequacy in the face of each day’s dull demands." Read it for free online .

17. "The White Album" — Joan Didion

most life changing essays

Of course Didion also gets two on this list. If you have not read this classic, do so now. It tracks our culture's — and the author's — transition out of the cataclysmic era that was the late '60s into something else much darker. It also contains an unforgettable image of Jim Morrison wearing black vinyl pants. Find it in the collection of the same name.

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Essays About Life Challenges: Top 5 Examples and 6 Prompts

Essays about life challenges let us share our valuable experiences and lessons in life. See our top examples and prompts to assist you in writing your essay.

Life challenges envelop the obstacles we face to reach where we are now. These personal crises we had to deal with have left us with lessons we can use to grow as people and have better lives. Essays that tackle this subject help us reflect on our experiences so we can remember our failures, celebrate our successes, and appreciate our growth. You can also check out these essays about life .

5 Essay Examples

1. african refugees life challenges by anonymous on ivypanda.com, 2. overcoming challenges in my life: dyslexia by anonymous on gradesfixer.com, 3. a self-reflection of my life challenges, motivation, and persistence to achieve my goals by terence hampton, 4. young generation’s challenges in life and career by anonymous on ivypanda.com, 5. role of challenges in identification of purposes in life by anonymous on gradesfixer.com, 1. before and after life challenges, 2. extreme life challenges and mental health, 3. the role of family when dealing with life challenges, 4. life challenges at work, 5. the different effects of life challenges, 6. overcoming life challenges.

“The refugees are allowed to live in these camps and receive emergency food and medical care until they feel it is secure enough for them to go back to their domiciles or until they are reunited with their people living out of the campers.” 

This essay gives readers an insight into the everyday challenges of refugees living in a camp. The author describes their situation in detail to let the readers understand their suffering and how difficult it is to be away from their homes. The essay further includes relevant statistics and studies to showcase the astounding number of refugees worldwide, including how they became refugees. 

Refugee camps still exist today, intending to relieve refugees from their challenging situations. Creating a challenging environment for many refugees living in this situation. You might be interested in these essays about cause and effect .

“As a child, I can remember when people were reassuring me that I was such a bright and outgoing kid. But there were times that I didn’t feel that way. I’ve always thought they were wrong about me and just trying to get my self-esteem up… ”

In this essay, the author shares their difficulties with having dyslexia, noting how growing up with this disability put them through overwhelming pressure and unpleasant situations that made them self-conscious. Their disability triggered many emotions that made them constantly embarrassed or panicky. 

However, the writer recognizes how their disability helped them improve their communication skills and reflects on how their challenging time at school molded them into who they are today. You can also check out these essays about conflict and essays about stress .

“I refuse to let adversity crush me because that would mean that my family and I would have done all this suffering for nothing. I do not live in vain, I live for a purpose and that is to inspire people to be more than what they think they are capable of. No day is promised, but the future is always full of possibilities.”

Hampton starts this essay by recognizing how life continuously throws him challenges. Still, he decides to only reflect on the most significant impact on his character, namely, his brother’s arrest, his twin brother Dante’s disability, and his father’s death. Throughout the piece, Hampton narrates these obstacles, letting the readers know what they made him feel and how they affected him as an individual. 

When he thinks back to these difficulties, he realizes what his objectives should be, encouraging him to be a better person. Hampton tells his readers that these challenges inspire him to reach his goals. Check out these essays about life lessons .

“Being the age of twenty-four years, I have encountered and seen the various challenges that many youths in this generation are experiencing. The list of challenges facing the youth in the current generation is endless with most of them having great impacts on the entire globe.”

As a young person, the author lets the audience in on the challenges they face and centers the essay around the hurdles youth are expected to deal with. The writer focuses on the difficulty of gaining employment despite years of formal training. This essay looks at current challenges facing today’s youth and how to overcome them.

“When you are faced with a challenge, especially one that pushes your limits, you sometimes behave differently. I’m not sure how to explain it…but there is occasionally a moment when you feel absolutely drained — like you can’t take one more step or your arms are about to fail you — but if you have the right mindset you can pull the strength you need from a part of you that is not commonly used.”

This essay focuses on how challenges can be used to enhance self-identification. The author explains how difficulties in life are commonly related to experiential learning, which helps people reflect, grow, and change. The author also believes that the most challenging times bring out the bravest in us, and the more we get used to these challenges, the more we develop our “superhero power.” 

6 Prompts for Essays About Life Challenges

Begin your essay by sharing a personal experience about a life-changing challenge you had to endure. Reminisce about your life before this occurred, and delve into how you felt during the challenge, then describe overcoming the challenge and how it shaped you. You can split your essay into three sections to dedicate thought to each part of the process. Make sure to use descriptive language and share your feelings with the reader for an engaging piece of writing.

Essays About Life Challenges: Extreme life challenges and mental health

The effects of life challenges differ for each person. For this prompt, research severe life challenges that can significantly damage an individual and add relevant statistics that prove these cases. These occurrences include childhood abuse, long-term stress, and social isolation. Conduct research and describe how experiencing these challenges can result in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Tip: Make sure to cite research from credible sources. 

Our upbringing shapes how we confront challenges and find resolutions. These lessons are communicated through events we are exposed to as children and young adults. In this essay, describe the ways that different upbringings can impact our ability to cope with challenges. 

For example, a child who grew up in a family where anger was used to resolve challenges may be more likely to deal with their own challenges in a negative way, resulting in anger and anxiety. Look for studies that support this prompt and identify the importance of a family unit in a child’s reaction to life challenges. Check out our 20 engaging essay topics about family .

Essays About Life Challenges: Life challenges at work

To narrow down the subject for your essay, focus on an aspect of an individual’s life they can’t remove, such as livelihood. Use this prompt to open a discussion about the challenges people face in their workplace and find cases that illustrate these difficulties. 

For example, there are 48.6 million Americans who have experienced workplace bullying. Delve into the reasons for these issues and offer possible solutions.

Overcoming tough challenges in life may lead to positive or negative results. Divide your essay into two parts, list the pros and cons of dealing with everyday life challenges, and add relevant factors that lead to those outcomes. 

Here’s an example: After the death of a loved one, an individual will learn how to deal with the pain and continue living their life with a stronger faith. On the other hand, they may succumb to sadness and become depressed.

For this prompt, choose a specific life challenge you had to deal with and how you addressed the situation. Narrate the difficulties you needed to manage during that time and ensure to highlight the qualities or values you used to overcome them.

Following the previous point’s example, if you have experienced losing a close relative, your struggles could include consoling your family and yourself while needing to oversee how the deceased’s funeral and estate are handled. You can describe how you overcame this challenge by remaining composed and wise throughout the ordeal. 

Looking for more? Check out our guide on how to write essays about depression .

most life changing essays

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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When a Major Life Change Upends Your Sense of Self

  • Madeline Toubiana,
  • Trish Ruebottom,
  • Luciana Turchick Hakak

most life changing essays

Five research-backed strategies to help you embrace a new identity and move forward with confidence.

Whether we like it or not, change is a fact of life. Unfortunately, especially when a major change feels like it’s been forced on us, it can be easy to fall into identity paralysis: a feeling of stuck-ness in which your sense of self fails to keep up with your new role or situation. The authors conducted hundreds of interviews with people who had gone through various kinds of positive or negative identity shifts to explore why people experience identity paralysis and what can help to overcome it. Based on this research, they offer five tactical strategies to help anyone let go of the past, embrace a new identity, and move forward on a path towards growth.

Human beings have a complicated relationship with change. While it is both inevitable and essential for growth, change can also be deeply uncomfortable — especially if it feels involuntary, or out of our control.

most life changing essays

  • MT Madeline Toubiana is an associate professor and the Desmarais Chair in Entrepreneurship at Telfer School of Management at University of Ottawa. Her research program focuses on what stalls and supports social change. More specifically, she examines the role of emotions, entrepreneurship, institutional processes, and stigmatization in influencing the dynamics of social change.
  • TR Trish Ruebottom is an associate professor at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of social innovation and organization, specifically exploring the ways we organize to create social change. Her recent work examines the role of entrepreneurship in stigmatized industries.
  • LH Luciana Turchick Hakak is an assistant professor at the School of Business of the University of the Fraser Valley. Her research interests lie in the distinct but often complementary fields of diversity in the workplace, work-related identity, and stigmatized work, and she has specifically investigated these issues in the context of how immigrants fare in new work environments.

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Essay Samples on Life Changing Experience

Speaking of topics that you may consider as a student, there is a lot to choose from. It can be your college experience or volunteering work that you have done that became a life-changing experience or something that you have seen or understood as a child. In either case, see our free life changing experience essay example to see how you can shape your thoughts correctly and follow the structure of academic writing. It must have a strong introduction with a hook, at least two body paragraphs, and a conclusion part that sums up all the ideas and thoughts that you have outlined in your paper. Just be yourself and think about what has inspired you in life or what events have helped to shape who you are.

What Experiences Have Shaped My Life

What experiences have shaped your life? Life is a tapestry woven from the threads of experiences — each moment, encounter, and challenge contributing to the person we become. As I reflect on the experiences that have shaped my life, I am reminded of the transformative...

  • Life Changing Experience

The Moment That Changed Everything: an Unpredictable Nature of Life

Life is an unpredictable journey, marked by various milestones and experiences that shape our paths. Among these, there are moments that stand out as pivotal, forever altering the course of our lives. These moments are often unexpected, yet their impact is profound. In this essay,...

An Unforgettable Day: A Chapter Etched in the Tapestry of My Life

Life is composed of a tapestry of moments, each weaving a unique story that contributes to the fabric of our existence. Among these moments, there are days that stand out as unforgettable, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts and memories. This essay chronicles one...

  • Personal Experience

An Important Event in My Life: a Reflection

Life is a series of moments that shape our journey, but some events leave an indelible mark on our hearts and minds. Among the myriad experiences, one event stands out as a pivotal moment that altered the course of my life. This essay delves into...

A Turning Point: An Event That Changed My Life Forever

Life is an unpredictable journey, shaped by a series of experiences that mold our character and perspective. Among these experiences, there are pivotal events that stand out as turning points, forever altering the course of our lives. This essay recounts an event that profoundly impacted...

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My Memorable Experience and How It Has Shaped My Perspective

Life is an array of moments, some fleeting and some etched into our memories forever. Among these moments, there are those that stand out, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts and minds. In this narrative essay, I delve into a memorable experience that has...

A Life Lesson I Have Learned and How It Continues to Shape Me

Life is a continuous journey of learning, filled with moments that impart wisdom and shape our perspectives. Some lessons are gentle whispers, while others are profound experiences that leave an everlasting imprint. In this narrative essay, I will share a significant life lesson that I...

  • Life Lesson

A Life Changing Experience: The Transformative Power of Challenges

Life is a journey filled with moments that shape our perspectives, redefine our priorities, and ultimately change the course of our existence. A life-changing experience is one that leaves an indelible mark, altering our beliefs, values, and the way we perceive the world around us....

A Life-Changing Experience About Respect and Being Respectful

In this short essay about respect I will share my life-changing experience that shown me the importance of respect between people. It was during the ceremony which I had at the school. As I hurried across the quad from my dorm room, the excitement of...

"A Whisper Of AIDS" By Mary Fisher: The Life-Changing Experience

Fisher’s robust life changing speech brought the world together to heal from this deranged disease we call AIDS. Fisher was an outspoken, powerful speaker. She put her feelings and what she has been through in the past to create a moving speech to bring people...

Our Life Experiences: Who We Are

What are personal circumstances? From a general context, and without regarding literal definition, they are everything we hear, see, feel, and do; they are a collection of positive and negative life experiences. They are the same life experiences used to determine if we qualify for...

The Potential Father Figures in Stevenson's Treasure Island

In the novel Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, Jim Hawkins is the main protagonist. Jim is a brave fourteen year old teenager. He matures a lot throughout his adventure while being under the influence of the men on the ship. Jim lost his father...

  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Treasure Island

The Fictional Recreation of Vasco Da Gama's Trip

1482 The day I came back from my first-great expedition to the Gold Coast, Bob is suffering with some mental health issues. I tried visiting him, but the doctor’s would not let anyone go through his hospital room. I went to the Gold Coast with...

  • Vasco Da Gama

The Lessons Applied to Experiences Learned from Rich Dad, Poor Dad

When people are upset and they don’t want to do anything’s only they want to do what they want. So, things which they give more interest and happiness to do are their hobbies. Some people hobbies are to travel and some want to play their...

  • Rich Dad Poor Dad

My Life Changing Experience of Losing My Old Job and Changing Careers

There are certain specific life-changing experiences that have both a positive and negative contribution in the general lifestyle and personality of an individual. Based on my personal reflection and experience, I lost my job after working 16 years for the same company. The loss of...

How Living Independently Changed My Life

Two years ago, when I was done with my high school, I was faced with a very difficult decision. I always wanted to move to another country. I felt that I needed a change and there were bigger cities and more opportunities waiting for me....

Life Changing Moment that Encouraged Me to Help People Suffering from Cancer

On the first day of tenth grade my teacher, Mrs. Sergeevna, told my class a story of her husband Victor, who is a brain cancer survivor. This Russian family lived over 8 years in Mongolia teaching Russian language in Mongolian schools. She became emotional as...

We Bought A Zoo: Book And Movie Comparison

The film is a story about the wonders of love, courage, and to make anything possible if you follow your heart. This is based on the true story of Benjamin Mee, who decides to move from London to somewhere in lower France to buy a...

  • Book Review

Who Inspired Me to Become a Nurse

To me, nursing is a selfless job. You put the patients’ needs before yours to provide them with the care that they deserve. As a nurse, you are the healing hands. With the energy, compassion, and dedication you build with the patients, you make a...

  • Someone Who Inspires Me

Mary Kom, The Person Who Inspired Me to Pursue My Dreams

A question simply arises in my mind that how someone can be a great leader. I thought on this and then I came across various leadership qualities which leaders are having in them. Let me explain first about the leadership qualities. Leader is a word...

The People Who Shaped Me

At a young age of 7, I subconsciously started noticing my mom reminisce about her past and it made me see the way music connected her to her roots and in a way, made her human. It was waking up and witnessing a scene that...

Three People Who Influenced Me Throughout My Life

My parents are undeniably the people who gave me the most profound influence. I would not talk about them separately because they are truly in one flesh. My parents met each other at bible college, and after they married, they served in church and drug...

  • Personal Life

The Way My Little Brother Changed My Life

There has been several times when something has changed my life wirth writing an essay about, but my the birth of my little brother has been the one that changed me the most. After ten years of my parent’s marriage, I was born bringing full...

  • Family Relationships

An Existential Inquiry into the Purpose and Value of Existence

Life is the greatest gift that we receive. It is a blessing and we should believe. It is not just given to us but this has a plan and purpose. We may not know what is this suppose. But why did others waste and decide...

  • Meaning of Life

Personal Experience Of Traveling On My Own And Growing Up

I do not come from a big religious or cultural family. Thus I have not had a huge coming of age experience in my lifetime. However in the fall 2017, I had little a bit of a life changing experience. I was offered to go...

The People Who Shaped My Story

There are only a very few people in your life who, out and out, fit in as the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle and complete your story. I 'm humbled by the very fact that I have known some. Those who have loved me...

  • Forgiveness

Best topics on Life Changing Experience

1. What Experiences Have Shaped My Life

2. The Moment That Changed Everything: an Unpredictable Nature of Life

3. An Unforgettable Day: A Chapter Etched in the Tapestry of My Life

4. An Important Event in My Life: a Reflection

5. A Turning Point: An Event That Changed My Life Forever

6. My Memorable Experience and How It Has Shaped My Perspective

7. A Life Lesson I Have Learned and How It Continues to Shape Me

8. A Life Changing Experience: The Transformative Power of Challenges

9. A Life-Changing Experience About Respect and Being Respectful

10. “A Whisper Of AIDS” By Mary Fisher: The Life-Changing Experience

11. Our Life Experiences: Who We Are

12. The Potential Father Figures in Stevenson’s Treasure Island

13. The Fictional Recreation of Vasco Da Gama’s Trip

14. The Lessons Applied to Experiences Learned from Rich Dad, Poor Dad

15. My Life Changing Experience of Losing My Old Job and Changing Careers

  • Perseverance
  • Personality
  • Career Goals

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Life Experience Essay: How to Write a Brilliant Paper

A life experience essay combines the elements of narration, description, and self-reflection. Such a paper has to focus on a single event that had a significant impact on a person’s worldview and values.

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Writing an essay about life experience prompts students to do the following:

  • evaluate their behavior in specific situations critically;
  • analyze their life and find significant moments;
  • see connections between some crucial events;
  • tell the story of their lives.

You may struggle with such papers, not knowing how to structure them. So, here are valuable tips for writing essays about experience in life. Hopefully, they will help you with your task. Don’t forget to bookmark our website in case you need any assignment assistance.

  • 📅 Picking One
  • ⏳ Essay Topics

📅 Picking One Life Experience

Many people struggle with such essay writing because they don’t know what events to choose from. Almost any person had a memorable moment at least once. Yet, it might be challenging to share it with someone else, especially in a narrative essay on a life-changing experience.

To find the right event for your essay, here are the essential preliminary steps that you need to take:

  • Choose a memory to reflect in your essay. Think of any past event that made you reevaluate your views about other people or your values and moral principles. For example, you can describe an encounter with an exciting person that influenced you. Alternatively, think about discussing a situation when you had to make a moral choice. Make sure the event is indeed significant for you and will impress the readers.
  • Describe the settings. It is essential to let the readers dive into the atmosphere you experienced. Introduce the background. Talk about the time and location of the event and describe your feelings. The more detail you provide, the more empathetic your reader will be. And in case some of the writing doesn’t seem to come together well enough, don’t hesitate to use a sentence changer to mix things up.
  • Analyze the impact of the event on your life. Compare and contrast your views and values before and after this event. How did the experience influence your life? What did you learn from it? The analysis is probably an essential part of your life experience essay. So, make sure your ideas are concise and clear enough.
  • Evaluate your experience. Finally, determine how this experience can help you or your readers. Highlight the key lessons you gained from the event you are describing in your essay. Give the audience valuable suggestions.

🌱 Life Experience Essay: Key Tips

Having chosen the most memorable experience, you can start writing your essay. It’s a common creative task for college or high school students. Usually, such papers require to reflect on their life while telling a story with a moral. You have to explain how one significant event in the past affected or even changed you.

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Before composing your paper, it is essential to plan it properly. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Decide whether the chosen topic is compelling.

Before starting structuring your essay, make sure you selected a great event. Here is a trick for you. Answer the following questions to evaluate your topic:

  • Did I learn something from that experience?
  • Did it significantly change my life?
  • Can I apply the knowledge I gained in the future?
  • Can I somehow educate the readers talking about this event?

If you answered YES, congratulations, you have a great topic. If your answers are NO, consider choosing another event to talk about.

  • Order the events logically.

While talking about your life-changing experience, it is essential to list the events in a logical order. Before writing your essay, outline. Decide on what you will tell first, what should be mentioned next, and how to conclude the paper. A logical structure will help the readers not to get overwhelmed with your thoughts.

  • Details matter.

For the readers, every detail might play a tremendous role. So, make sure you don’t forget to mention any essential turn of events. But be careful. Don’t overdo it. Include only vital and most vivid details in your essay about experience in life.

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Several strategies will help you with that:

  • A catchy intro is a key to a successful essay on life experience. Start your paper with an attention-getter or a sentence that can make your reader interested. For this purpose, you can use a quote or a paradoxical statement that shows how two conflicting ideas can co-exist. Turn on your imagination. The more exciting your first paragraph is – the highest chances to catch your readers’ attention are.
  • Explain your choice. No doubt, every person gets into a life-changing experience. So, impress your readers with your idea. Prove to them that your experience is worth sharing. Only if you introduce your concepts dynamically and effectively, your essay will be indeed fascinating.
  • Make your experience essay well balanced. It is also vital for you to find and maintain the balance between narrative and self-reflection. On the one hand, your paper has to describe an event accurately. As has been said before, you need to explain what happened and how it happened. On the other hand, you also need to analyze the impact the event’s experience had on you. So, make sure that your paper includes both: narrative and self-reflection.
  • Compose a memorable conclusion. The conclusion of your essay has to explain how experience can be applied. In other words, you need to show what you learned from the event. Explain how the knowledge you gained can affect your decisions in the future. Also, show your readers what they can learn from your life lesson.

See how it all can be accomplished in a life experience essay example below:

⏳ Life Experience Essay: Topics

Now you can approach an essay on a life experience that profoundly influenced you. Such a paper allows you to demonstrate your creativity and writing skills. So, try to be natural, and this mindset will help you write a great essay about yourself .

We prepared a list of life experience topics that will help you start:

  • How I conquered my fear . Were you afraid of something but found the courage to overcome your fears ? Isn’t it a perfect topic for an essay about experience in life? Introduce your fear. Explain how you conquered it. Describe how your life changed after it. Who knows, maybe you will inspire somebody else to deal with their fears.
  • A failure that made me stronger. Unsurprisingly, everybody fails. But have you ever been in a situation when your failure motivated you to improve? Describe this experience and tell the reader how you felt about it. Share your insight into overcoming failures with the audience!
  • How I met the love of my life. This topic is relevant to those having a boyfriend or a girlfriend who tremendously changed their lives. Are you one of them? Then consider writing about your life before and after you’ve met the love of your life. Did you change your habits ? Did you improve? Tell the reader more about that in your experience essay.
  • The most memorable experience of my childhood. We start our character formation in early childhood. So, maybe there was an incredibly significant event in your childhood that impacted your personal development. Analyze this experience and present your thoughts in the essay.
  • My first public performance. Well, public performances are a nightmare for some people. Therefore, the first appearance on the stage might become a life-changing and unforgettable experience. Do you have something fascinating to share about your first performance? Consider selecting this topic, then.
  • The most meaningful conversation I have ever had. Sometimes conversations can be pretty shallow. Sometimes, however, a talk might become the most memorable experience in your life. Have you ever had such a conversation? With whom? What was the topic of discussion? How did your perception of life or set of values transform after that talk?
  • A fascinating journey . Are you a fan of traveling? Then you have probably been on numerous trips . But have you ever been on a journey that significantly impacted your life? What country did you visit? What did you see or learn that impressed you most? How has your perception of life changed after that journey?
  • A piece of art that impressed me a lot. It’s no wonder that art has a tremendous power. Sometimes, a piece of art may turn an individual’s life upside down. Has it ever happened to you? What influenced you: a book, a movie, a painting ? What were your feelings and emotions?
  • My first award. Are you a professional athlete, an outstanding singer, or a successful dancer ? Then, you probably have numerous medals, cups, and certificates. But do you remember that unforgettable moment when you came to the stage to receive your first award? What was your way until that first award ? How did you feel when you finally got it? What did you learn from that life-changing experience?
  • Significant event that had a positive impact on my life .
  • An unforgettable visit to Africa .
  • Describe what makes you want to travel .
  • The experience of my first job at a rehabilitation center.
  • Discuss how a university degree became a driver of positive changes in your life.
  • The day I experimented on challenging gender norms .
  • Give details about your leadership experience .
  • My experience of winning the fight by losing it .
  • Analyze your experience of adopting a pet.
  • Describe your experience with English course and how it influenced your everyday life.
  • My experience of learning to ride a bicycle .
  • Examine the influence of a specific culture on your life.
  • How I bought my first laptop .
  • Spend twelve hours without smartphone and describe your experience.
  • An unforgettable experience of becoming a mom.
  • Analyze your experience with writing class and how it helped you to master writing in different styles.
  • Discuss your experience of mysophobia and its impact on your life.
  • The positive effect of art and dance movement therapy on my mental health.
  • Explain how you managed to resolve a conflict with your friend.
  • A defining event from my childhood.
  • Describe the challenges you faced at high school.
  • Tell about your experience as a volunteer .
  • Discuss your experience of working in a contact center .
  • Transformation of my life values after the lockdown .
  • The lessons I’ve learned being a Walmart employee .
  • Explain how mindfulness practice improved the quality of your life.
  • Personal experience of work with children with autism .
  • Describe the day you experienced a culture shock .
  • Tell about your experience of asking for help and results you obtained.
  • Give details about the worst job you’ve ever worked at.
  • My experience of covert conflict and how I managed to resolve it.
  • My trip to Yellowstone National Park .
  • Depict your last visit to the amusement park .
  • The educational experiences that influenced my career goals.

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Moments of Transformation: A Life Changing Essay

Published by EssayWriters on October 28, 2023 October 28, 2023

Moments of Transformation A Life Changing Essay

In life, we often encounter moments that challenge our beliefs, shift our perspectives, and inspire us to become better versions of ourselves. These moments, known as moments of transformation , have the power to spark personal growth and self-realization . From small breakthroughs to life-changing events , every transformative experience has the potential to lead us on a journey of discovery and fulfillment.

In this essay, we will explore the concept of moments of transformation and their profound impact on personal growth . We will discuss various transformative experiences , life-changing events , and self-realizations that act as catalysts for change. Through this exploration, we will discover the power of these moments and how they can lead to paradigm shifts and transformative journeys .

Key Takeaways:

  • Moments of transformation can lead to personal growth and self-realization .
  • Transformative experiences come in many forms, from small breakthrough moments to life-changing events .
  • Self-realization is a key component of moments of transformation.
  • Moments of transformation can lead to paradigm shifts and transformative journeys .
  • Embracing change is necessary to unlock personal growth and transformation.

Understanding Moments of Transformation

  • 1 Understanding Moments of Transformation
  • 2 Exploring Transformative Experiences
  • 3 Life-Changing Events: Catalysts for Transformation
  • 4 The Power of Self-Realization
  • 5 Paradigm Shifts: Changing Perspectives
  • 6 The Thrill of Breakthrough Moments
  • 7 Navigating Turning Points in Life
  • 8 The Transformational Power of Journeys
  • 9 Embracing Change for Personal Growth
  • 10 Conclusion

Moments of transformation are experiences that have the power to bring about significant personal growth and paradigm shifts . But what exactly are these moments, and why are they so important for our development?

At their core, moments of transformation are defined as experiences that lead to breakthrough moments and personal growth. While ordinary experiences may offer incremental change or temporary satisfaction, moments of transformation have a lasting impact on our lives. They can come from a variety of sources, including introspection, travel, relationships, or significant life events.

What makes moments of transformation so powerful is their ability to challenge our existing beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions. They force us to re-evaluate our perspectives and open ourselves up to new possibilities. This can be uncomfortable and even painful at times, but the result is a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

So why is personal growth so important? As we navigate through life, we encounter numerous challenges and obstacles that can hold us back. Moments of transformation allow us to break through these limitations, gain clarity on our own values and desires, and unlock our full potential. They help us to become more resilient, adaptable, and creative in the face of adversity.

Breakthrough moments and personal growth are not easy to achieve , but they are possible for anyone who is willing to embrace change and seek out transformative experiences . By recognizing the power of moments of transformation, we can begin to cultivate a mindset of growth and openness, setting ourselves on a path of continuous personal development and fulfillment.

Exploring Transformative Experiences

Transformative experiences are events or situations that create significant changes in an individual’s outlook, behavior, or lifestyle. Such experiences can lead to self-realization and personal growth, enabling individuals to evolve into a better version of themselves.

Transformative experiences can come in various forms, from small, everyday moments to life-changing events . Some common transformative experiences include:

Through these experiences, individuals may gain a newfound understanding of themselves and their place in the world. They may discover values and belief systems they never knew they had or learn new skills that expand their horizons.

Self-realization, a key component of transformative experiences, often stems from moments of introspection and reflection. By examining their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their own psyche and motivations.

This process of self-discovery is often facilitated by external factors such as therapy, meditation, or journaling. Through these practices, individuals can develop a greater sense of self-awareness and cultivate a more conscious approach to life.

Real-life Examples

“Traveling alone to a foreign country was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I discovered new cultures, made lasting friendships, and learned to be independent and self-reliant. It made me realize that the world is much bigger than my own personal bubble, and that there is so much to explore and discover out there.”
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought my life was over. But going through treatment and coming out on the other side made me realize how strong and resilient I am. It taught me to cherish every moment and not take anything for granted. Now, I’m living my life with a newfound sense of purpose and gratitude.”

These examples showcase the transformative power of experiences that challenge, inspire and motivate individuals to grow and learn.

Life-Changing Events: Catalysts for Transformation

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Some events may seem insignificant at first, while others have the potential to transform our lives in profound ways. These are the moments that test our resilience, challenge our beliefs, and push us to grow. They are the life-changing events that act as catalysts for personal transformation.

What makes these events so powerful? For starters, they often involve a significant shift in our life circumstances. This could be a new job, a change in relationship status, a move to a new city, or a health scare. These events force us to adapt to new realities, often pushing us out of our comfort zones and into uncharted territory.

At the same time, life-changing events also have the potential to trigger a deep sense of reflection. They force us to confront our values, priorities, and goals in ways that we may not have done otherwise. This introspection can lead to breakthrough moments of self-realization and personal growth.

Examples of Life-Changing Events

It’s important to note that not all life-changing events are necessarily negative. Achievements such as receiving a promotion or completing a challenging project can also be catalysts for personal growth.

Regardless of the event’s nature, it’s our response to it that ultimately determines its impact on our lives. Those who view these events as opportunities for growth and self-reflection are more likely to emerge from them stronger, more resilient, and with a deeper sense of purpose.

Life-changing events can be challenging, but they can also be transformative, leading to breakthrough moments and personal growth. By embracing these events as catalysts for change , we can navigate through life’s twists and turns with resilience, purpose, and a renewed sense of self.

The Power of Self-Realization

Self-realization is a crucial aspect of moments of transformation, as it allows individuals to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their values. Through self-realization, individuals can identify their strengths, weaknesses, desires, and purpose, leading to personal growth and fulfillment. Transformative journeys often entail self-reflection, introspection, and exploration of new perspectives, facilitating the process of self-realization.

Self-realization can manifest in different ways, such as developing a new skill , pursuing a passion, or engaging in self-care practices. By investing in themselves, individuals can cultivate a sense of self-worth and confidence, enabling them to navigate life with more intention and purpose.

“Self-realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.” – Paramahansa Yogananda

Self-realization is not a one-time event but a continuous process, as individuals evolve and change throughout their lives. By embracing this process, individuals can remain open to new experiences and perspectives, allowing for continued personal growth and transformation.

Paradigm Shifts: Changing Perspectives

Paradigm shifts occur when individuals experience a fundamental change in their beliefs, attitudes, or perspectives. These shifts challenge existing notions and open doors to new possibilities, leading to transformative experiences and personal growth.

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

As Einstein noted, our thinking must shift to solve problems and reach new heights. Similarly, moments of transformation often require a shift in perspective, allowing individuals to see things in a new light. This shift can occur suddenly, through a breakthrough moment, or gradually, through self-reflection and introspection.

The Power of Paradigm Shifts

Paradigm shifts have the power to expand our worldview and transform our lives. By questioning our assumptions and challenging our beliefs, we can gain a new perspective on life and open ourselves up to new possibilities. This shift in perspective can be a catalyst for personal growth, leading to transformative experiences and breakthrough moments .

Examples of Paradigm Shifts

Paradigm shifts can occur in any area of life, from personal relationships to work to politics. They can be sparked by a chance encounter, a life-changing event, or a transformative journey. Here are some examples of paradigm shifts:

Cultivating Paradigm Shifts

Cultivating paradigm shifts requires an openness to new ideas and a willingness to challenge our own beliefs. This can be difficult, as we often cling to our existing beliefs as a source of comfort and stability. However, by embracing change and actively seeking out new experiences and perspectives, we can create the conditions for paradigm shifts to occur.

  • Expose yourself to diverse perspectives and viewpoints
  • Question your assumptions and challenge your beliefs
  • Cultivate a growth mindset and see challenges as opportunities for growth
  • Embrace change and seek out transformative experiences

By embracing paradigm shifts, we can unlock our potential for personal growth and transformation, leading to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

The Thrill of Breakthrough Moments

Breakthrough moments are the culmination of transformative journeys, marking significant progress in personal growth. These moments are characterized by the exhilaration and sense of achievement that come with breaking through limitations, overcoming obstacles, and reaching personal milestones.

Personal growth is a continuous journey that requires perseverance and dedication. Breakthrough moments serve as milestones along this journey, indicating progress and inspiring further growth. Whether it’s overcoming a fear, achieving a long-standing goal, or realizing a deep-seated desire, breakthrough moments provide a tangible sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue pushing forward.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

Transformative journeys that lead to breakthrough moments can take many forms. It could be as simple as learning a new skill or overcoming a personal challenge , or as complex as embarking on a spiritual quest or reinventing oneself. What matters is the intention behind the journey and the commitment to personal growth.

Breakthrough moments are not only significant for personal growth but can also have a positive impact on other areas of life, such as career and relationships. Achieving a breakthrough can lead to increased confidence, better decision-making, and a more positive outlook on life. It can also inspire others to pursue their own transformative journeys.

The Importance of Celebrating Breakthrough Moments

Celebrating breakthrough moments is an essential part of the personal growth process. By acknowledging and celebrating these moments, individuals can reinforce the positive changes they have made and the progress they have achieved. It also helps to cultivate a mindset of gratitude and appreciation for the transformative journeys that have led to these breakthroughs.

Celebrating breakthrough moments doesn’t have to be grandiose, but it should be meaningful and personal. It could be as simple as treating oneself to a favorite meal or activity, sharing the achievement with loved ones, or reflecting on how far one has come. Whatever the celebration may be, it should serve as a reminder of the power of personal growth and the potential for continued progress.

Moments of Transformation Essay

Moments of Transformation Essay

Navigating Turning Points in Life

Life is full of unpredictable twists and turns that can lead to significant shifts in our journey. These turning points can be challenging and overwhelming, but they also hold the potential for growth and transformation.

Some turning points are life-changing events, such as a loss of a loved one, a sudden illness, or a major career change. These events can shake our beliefs and force us to reassess our priorities. They can also provide opportunities for self-reflection and personal growth.

Other turning points may be more subtle, such as a change in our relationships, a decision to pursue a new passion, or a personal epiphany. These turning points may not be as dramatic as life-changing events, but they can still lead to significant growth and transformation.

Regardless of the type of turning point, navigating these moments requires intentionality and reflection. It’s essential to take time to process these experiences, identify our emotions and values, and consider how we want to move forward.

One effective tool for navigating turning points is journaling. Writing down our thoughts and feelings can help us gain clarity and perspective on our experiences. It can also serve as a record of our growth and progress over time.

Another useful technique is seeking support from others, whether it’s through therapy, coaching, or simply talking to friends and family. Having a sounding board can provide valuable feedback, perspective, and encouragement during challenging times.

The Transformational Power of Journeys

Journeys, whether physical or metaphorical, have the potential to be transformative. They can act as a catalyst for personal growth, self-discovery, and breakthrough moments. By embarking on a journey, individuals step out of their comfort zone and open themselves up to new experiences, perspectives, and challenges. This section will explore the transformative power of journeys and how they contribute to personal growth.

One type of transformative journey is travel. Venturing to a new country, culture, or environment can broaden one’s horizons, challenge preconceived notions, and inspire personal growth. According to a study conducted by the Student and Youth Travel Association, 95% of surveyed travelers reported that travel significantly increased their self-confidence, and 75% reported that it had a positive impact on their career.

Another transformative journey is education . Pursuing higher education or learning a new skill can lead to personal growth, self-discovery, and career advancement. According to a report by the Lumina Foundation, individuals with higher levels of education tend to have better health outcomes, civic engagement, and job stability.

Lastly, transformative journeys can also be metaphorical, such as embarking on a journey of self-improvement. This can take the form of practicing mindfulness, seeking therapy, or engaging in physical fitness. By taking intentional steps towards self-growth, individuals can experience breakthrough moments and profound personal transformation.

Overall, transformative journeys have the potential to be life-changing experiences that lead to personal growth, breakthrough moments, and self-realization. By opening oneself up to new experiences, perspectives, and challenges, individuals can embark on a path of continuous transformation and fulfillment.

Embracing Change for Personal Growth

Change is an inevitable part of life, and it is crucial for personal growth. Transformative experiences and life-changing events can challenge us to step out of our comfort zones, confront our fears, and expand our horizons. However, change can also be daunting, and many people resist it out of fear or uncertainty. To fully embrace change as a catalyst for personal growth, it is essential to adopt a growth mindset and develop strategies for navigating transitions.

The Importance of Personal Growth

Personal growth is a lifelong journey of self-improvement and self-discovery. By embracing change and seeking out transformative experiences, individuals can unlock their potential and achieve a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment. Through personal growth, individuals can develop new skills, cultivate positive habits, and gain a greater understanding of their values and purpose in life.

Strategies for Embracing Change

Embracing change requires a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone and take risks. To navigate transitions successfully, individuals can employ the following strategies:

  • Positive self-talk: A growth mindset involves believing in oneself and focusing on progress rather than perfection. By cultivating positive self-talk and affirmations, individuals can overcome self-doubt and build confidence.
  • Setting goals: Goals provide direction and motivation for personal growth. By setting realistic and achievable goals, individuals can measure their progress and celebrate their successes.
  • Embracing uncertainty: Change often involves uncertainty and ambiguity, which can be uncomfortable. However, by reframing uncertainty as an opportunity for growth and learning, individuals can approach transitions with a sense of curiosity and openness.
  • Seeking support: Change can be challenging, and it’s important to seek support from friends, family, or professionals when needed. By connecting with others, individuals can gain perspective and share their experiences.

Transformative Experiences and Life-Changing Events

Transformative experiences and life-changing events can provide opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. Whether it’s traveling to a new place, starting a new job, or experiencing a major loss, these experiences can challenge us to confront our beliefs, values, and priorities. By embracing these experiences and using them as catalysts for personal growth, individuals can transform their lives and achieve greater fulfillment.

Embracing change is essential for personal growth, and it requires a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone and take risks. By adopting a growth mindset, setting goals, embracing uncertainty, and seeking support, individuals can navigate transitions successfully and unlock their potential for self-discovery and fulfillment. Transformative experiences and life-changing events can provide powerful opportunities for growth, and by embracing these moments, individuals can embark on a journey of continuous personal transformation.

Throughout this essay, we have explored the concept of moments of transformation and their impact on personal growth. We have discussed the power of self-realization, the significance of life-changing events, and the transformative journeys that lead to breakthrough moments.

Moments of transformation are pivotal in personal growth. They act as catalysts for change, challenging existing notions and opening doors to new possibilities. By embracing change and actively seeking transformative experiences, individuals can unlock their potential for continuous personal transformation and fulfillment.

Self-realization is a key component of moments of transformation. By uncovering their true selves, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their values, desires, and purpose. Through transformative journeys of self-discovery, individuals can experience significant personal growth.

Life-changing events have the potential to act as catalysts for transformation. Significant events, such as career transitions, loss, or major achievements, can trigger profound change. By navigating these turning points with intention and reflection, individuals can harness their potential for personal growth and transformation.

Breakthrough moments are pivotal in moments of transformation. They are moments of exhilaration and sense of achievement that come with breaking through limitations, overcoming obstacles, and reaching personal milestones. By understanding the importance of these moments, individuals can actively seek and embrace opportunities for growth.

What are moments of transformation?

Moments of transformation refer to significant experiences or events that lead to profound personal growth and self-realization. These moments often involve a shift in perspective, beliefs, or attitudes, and can be catalysts for transformative journeys.

Why are moments of transformation important for personal growth?

Moments of transformation are important for personal growth because they challenge existing notions and open doors to new possibilities. They allow individuals to break through limitations, overcome obstacles, and gain a deeper understanding of themselves, leading to significant personal development.

How do moments of transformation differ from ordinary experiences?

Moments of transformation differ from ordinary experiences in that they have a profound and lasting impact on individuals. They often involve a paradigm shift, changing perspectives and beliefs, and can lead to transformative journeys and breakthrough moments of personal growth.

What are some examples of transformative experiences?

Transformative experiences can vary greatly from person to person, but some common examples include travel, relationships, personal challenges, or moments of self-discovery. These experiences have the power to lead to self-realization and personal growth.

How do life-changing events act as catalysts for transformation?

Life-changing events, such as career transitions, loss, or major achievements, have the potential to act as catalysts for transformation. These events often disrupt one’s ordinary life and force individuals to confront new realities, leading to personal growth and self-reflection.

What is the power of self-realization in moments of transformation?

Self-realization is a key component of moments of transformation. It involves uncovering one’s true self, understanding personal values, desires, and purpose. By gaining this self-awareness, individuals can embark on transformative journeys and experience significant personal growth.

How do moments of transformation lead to paradigm shifts?

Moments of transformation have the power to lead to paradigm shifts by challenging existing beliefs, attitudes, and perspectives. Through these shifts, individuals can break free from mental constraints and open themselves up to new possibilities, fostering personal growth and transformation.

What is the significance of breakthrough moments?

Breakthrough moments mark pivotal points in moments of transformation. They involve breaking through limitations, overcoming obstacles, and reaching personal milestones. These moments bring a sense of exhilaration, achievement, and can act as fuel for further personal growth and transformative journeys.

How can individuals navigate turning points in life for personal growth?

Navigating turning points in life requires intention and reflection. Whether it’s a career change, relationship transition, or personal epiphany, individuals can harness the potential for personal growth by embracing these turning points, learning from them, and using them as catalysts for transformation.

How do transformative journeys contribute to personal growth?

Transformative journeys, whether physical or metaphorical, have the power to contribute to personal growth and self-discovery. By embarking on journeys like travel, education, or self-improvement, individuals can expand their horizons, uncover hidden potentials, and experience breakthrough moments of transformation.

Why is embracing change important for personal growth?

Embracing change is essential for personal growth because it opens doors to transformative experiences and moments of transformation. By overcoming fears and resistance, actively seeking change, and adopting a mindset of growth and openness, individuals can unlock their potential for personal transformation and fulfillment.

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Life Changing Events: Personal Experience

If you are about to write a short narrative essay about something that changed your life forever, you’ve come to the right place! Check out our “childhood experience that changed my life” essay sample to get some ideas and inspiration for your paper.

Life Changing Event: Essay Introduction

Life changing experience: essay main body, life changing event: essay conclusion.

In life, certain experiences present challenges that change the way people relate to themselves and their families. Certain life events mark life-changing moments that alter lives either positively or negatively. It matters how people handle their relationships at such critical moments. 

Relationships, especially with family members, are the most important aspects of handling change. I have experienced life-changing events that turned me into a better person.

One such event occurred in my childhood, while the other occurred in adolescence. In both cases, my family was there to support and help me go through the tough times. Looking back at the influence of these events, I am always glad that my family was with me in overcoming the challenges. I am a better person because my family stood beside me and gave me strength and support in moments of weakness and helplessness.

The first event that had a remarkable impact on my life was the loss of a dear friend. This event changed my world and made me a better person. It taught me how to appreciate friends, family, and relationships. In childhood, I had a cousin who was my best friend.

Our friendship was so deep that we usually spent holidays and weekends visiting each other’s families. To my family, she was like one of the members. I was like one of her family members, too. We used to spend a lot of time together, playing, studying, traveling, and doing many other fun activities.

One day, while returning home from school, she got knocked down by a motorcyclist speeding off, trying to escape from a police officer. She was hit from behind and knocked her head on a large stone on the side of the road upon landing on the ground. When I received the news of the accident, I was devastated.

The morning after the accident, I visited her in the hospital and received the sad news that she was in a coma after suffering severe brain damage. I lost my appetite, could not sleep for weeks, and spent several nights crying and wishing she would be fine. She was in the hospital for six months. During that period, I became stressed and lost weight.

I missed school for many days, thus affecting my academics. Even though my family was also affected, the effect was greater on me because of our long-time friendship. Every day I woke up expecting to hear good news from my parents of her miraculous recovery, but that did not happen. As I became more depressed, I started to avoid social gatherings and experienced difficulty sleeping.

One morning, just after breakfast, we received news that she had passed away. At that moment, a hot flush of blood flowed into my head, and I fainted. The long period of endless waiting had come to an end. That morning was one of the lowest moments. I was rushed to the hospital, and the doctors said I had collapsed due to sudden shock. The grieving period was excruciating.

However, my family stood by me and offered consolation. My family members provided emotional and physical support and helped me overcome the incident. The event had severe emotional effects. My mum spent most of her time comforting me. I could cope with the situation because my family understood what I was going through, were patient, listened to me, and offered psychological help.

My parents were not angry at me for missing school. They allowed me to stay home until I was ready to go back. It took four months of grieving to get over the death of my cousin and best friend. This incident changed my life and brought me closer to my family. I now appreciate relationships and more. As a result, I am more loving, caring, compassionate, and appreciative of the people in my life.

The other defining moment that changed me involved a disagreement with my parents regarding joining high school. When the time came for me to enter high school, I was not prepared and wanted to stay home for a year before joining. My parents were concerned that I would lose a year of schooling since, at my age, I was not ready for a job. They feared I would have nothing to do for an entire year.

The reasons for delaying my entry to high school were fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. I was not ready to enter a stage of life where I was expected to be responsible for my life and actions. I refused to talk to my parents and other family members because I felt that they were imposing their principles on me. The truth is that I was afraid to enter a phase that would require me to be responsible for my decisions and actions.

I avoided my parents and always ensured they never got a chance to question me. My decision changed when my dad confronted me. Our discussion focused on the reasons that were informing my decision. At first, I was unwilling to tell my dad the truth, but as the debate progressed, I had no choice but to open up to him. I was afraid that he would be disappointed with me.

However, he assured me that it was normal to experience fear and anxiety, especially when making a life-changing decision. He narrated a story about how he had reacted the same way when his dad asked him to move out of their family house to find a place to live after joining college. Throughout the entire experience, my family was very understanding.

They helped me to overcome the fear and anxiety of embracing responsibilities. That incident changed my life, attitudes, and perspectives regarding life. My family has always supported me during tough times. That incident improved my relationship with my family and introduced me to adulthood. Whenever I face a challenge, I discuss it openly with my family because of the awareness that they are always ready and willing to listen and offer assistance. 

My elder brother introduced me to high school life and offered numerous tips on adjusting to the new environment. My family is my greatest source of joy and happiness. This incident taught me responsibility, trust, humility, and the importance of family. The aforementioned events changed my life tremendously because they played a crucial role in molding me into a responsible, caring, and compassionate person.

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