I'm so excited to announce the first and second place winners of the YALITCHAT.ORG teen writing contest: I CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!!
(If you're interested in writing and are not aware of YALITCHAT, I suggest you check it out now--well, maybe not now, but soon--after you read the amazing contest winning entry below! There are authors, agents, chats, info--basically its an amazing community of generous people, all sharing their knowledge on the ins and outs of the writing biz!)
Okay, back to business--and the winners are:
(insert drumroll here)
2nd place and a $10 iTunes gift card goes to: Audrey Chen!!! Huge Congrats, Audrey!!
1st place goes to: Angela Adduci, who wins $100 and a signed book from me! Her beautiful and inspiring entry appears below--and they are words to live by for sure!
I Can Change the World, by Angela Adduci
We live in a world that does not want to be changed. We are given our numbers, told our place, and nothing more is expected of us. Social security, class rank, even that dog-eared ticket that they hand you at the deli while you wait to pick up your food. Maybe you never noticed. Maybe you never cared. But how is one supposed to change the world when they are not seen as flesh and blood, heart and dreams?
A number will not send you to a place of happiness or satisfaction. A number will not transform your dreams into reality. A number will not show you the pure beauty of life, or help you spread that beauty to those who need it most.
And yet these numbers are so easy to fall into. We want to know more, more about our chances of being accepted to a certain college, about the status of our bank accounts. It’s pure selfishness, the kind that we have been taught is acceptable. These numbers send us on an inward spiral, into a life of disregard and apathy for others.
This vicious cycle can be broken by something so simple and yet, so wonderful: kindness. The beauty of helping others is that there are no numbers. You don’t need a string of digits to volunteer at a food kitchen. There are no numerals involved in the orphanages of Vietnam, or in a town that has been destroyed by a hurricane. These are the places where we rely on interactions with others, on the science of generosity. Hand to hand, heart to heart.
This is my challenge: become more than a number. Transcend the status of black and white, of ink on paper. Become a helper, a thinker, a planner, a friend. Monotony and memorization will not change the world. It is so easy to become caught up in the numbers game. GPA, PIN number, college applications. These are what we idealize. But we cannot change the world by sticking to the same beaten path. When you are gone, what would you like to have left behind: a string of digits, or a life changed for the better?
I can change the world. I can rise above the standards that have been set. I can stop thinking only about myself and my numbers, and begin to think about the big picture. It is true; the world may not want to change. We know what our place is, and we know how we can maintain that position. We are told that our lives and our problems are all that matter. It would be infinitely more comfortable to stay this way, to live out my life in the familiar way. But I can reject this way of life. I can bring an end to the same old routine, and embrace a life of kindness and generosity. I can come to understand that what we as a society put value to is not what really matters.
I can change the world, and so can you.