Town: Raleigh, North Carolina
Quote: “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” – Albert Camus
About Sarah: I am a student at NC State studying electrical engineering and grew up in California, but home has always been wherever I feel whole. At the top of the mountain before I start to hike back, in the middle of a ski run that’s so intense it makes me want to cry, or flying down a single track for the first time on a mountain bike, all of these places are where I feel whole and at home. The pain will go away, the struggle will end, and the joy and beauty will cement itself in my memory until I return. Life at school has similar joys for me, though the elegance of an equation is perhaps more sublime than beautiful, the people I met there have changed my life, a life I have never really fully appreciated or respected myself for until recently. The difference has been confidence.
Confidence. It’s the pure feeling of pride at the end of the day when your muscles hurt but you’ve learned something and grown in skill, it’s also the knowledge that you are loved and deserve to be so, and the thing that has brought me happiness. Confidence did not come when I was second all league in wrestling, it did not both times I was first team all league in tennis, not when I learned how to fly down the mountain and through the air on skis, or when I passed the hardest class of my life. I learned confidence after I had failed, struggled, got covered in mud, was surrounded by bugs and had tears running down my face. In the dirt at the end of that day, my 5’4″ self-lifted a mountain bike on top of the car, strapped it in, put my foot on the clutch and drove away with this new thing, this confidence. I had done it. All by myself. No broken bones, no mangled equipment, just hard work, focus, willpower, and courage.
In this case, it was courage to continue and try something new, and the courage to open up to others when I was having problems or needed help, which is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Getting the courage to lean on the people you love when you need to? That takes time. My mother, I have always loved her, but having the courage to call her when I am alone and crying has never bugged me, and she has always helped me through. We have climbed both emotional and physical mountains together, and it has made us all the stronger. When I need a kick start after a hard test, or motivation to keep skiing after lunch, I turn to her, and she helps me through. Having this confidence can be hard, especially when there is pride in the way. We do not agree on everything. In fact, we hardly agree on what most people think is important – politics, life goals, religion, money. But we do agree on what kind of pizza is the best, BBQ chicken, and that whatever we do with our lives should make us happy, not be what other people think we should do – though sometimes we have to remind each other of this.
But she has always supported me, as a single mom she made it to every match, meet, took me skiing, mountain climbing, on road trips up the US HWY 1, and made sure I was exposed to new experiences, which my newfound confidence has recently made me appreciate all the more. It has also helped me set aside what other people think and, instead, focus on what matters to me. I care about eating good food, no matter where I live or who I am with. I care about people, whose opinions I may not agree with, but a person is not their politics if you can have the courage to put aside your pride and jump into a better relationship with them.
And more than anything, if you have the courage to jump, across the country to a new school, off the lift down your first black diamond, to a new state for a dream job, onto a bike for a new experience or even just across the kitchen to see past your differences, do so, it will make your life better and it will open you up to new experiences which otherwise you might not have even known you missed. Have the courage to try something new, and perhaps it will be what lets you be confident enough to be happy; but if it doesn’t, have the courage to keep trying.