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No Control

Perhaps the biggest event of my upbringing that affected who I am today was my move from North Carolina to California when I was 11 years old. Previously shy, comfortable with my several best friends, and accustomed to small-town life, I had to adjust to San Diego life. Although it took time, I eventually became more outgoing, more social, and more friendly. Moving also made me realize how important it is to live in the moment because few things last forever. I am also a more positive and optimistic person today; I realize that while a situation may not be fun or easy at first glance, it is always possible to improve it. There were lots of events throughout my childhood (such as divorce and deaths in my family, moving, middle school and its difficulties) over which I had no control. The fact that I am a perfectionist is perhaps one of my greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses -- a quality that will both help and hinder me in the future. My own work and actions are the few things that I am able to control, and thus I have an intense desire for a flawless outcome. The upside is that my finished work is a product of which I am proud. However, sometimes I go at my own pace and fuss over every detail and give it more time and attention than it may deserve.

It is always fascinating to reminisce and examine who I am and how I have changed...most of the time in a positive way. If given the choice, I would not change anything from my past, for there are some life lessons that must be learned through experience. -- Naomi Serling-Boyd, Mt. Carmel H.S. I am driven. I am passionate. I am focused. I am extremely motivated. I am a perfectionist. I am Emma. Some people may view me as the quintessential daughter, but I was not born that way; I molded myself into that image. I strive for perfection not because my parents ever demanded it of me, but because I demand it of myself.

When I was in the fourth grade, my family moved to Sacramento. I had trouble adjusting at first. Matters worsened when my dad went to Switzerland for three months to study medicine, leaving behind my mom, my three younger siblings, and me. To ensure we all felt special, my mom had a babysitter come over one day a week so she could have private time with my brother Michael and me. (She spent time with the younger two when Michael and I were in school.) But I rarely ever got my private time with Mom; Michael would always get out of hand to the point Mom would have to cut my time short and go handle Michael.

As a child, I interpreted this to mean Mom didn't love me as much as she loved Michael. If she loved me, she would make Michael behave so she could spend time with me. I thought maybe if I were perfect, Mom would want to spend time with me. I know my mom never loved me any less than the others, but as a ten-year-old, I didn't think I was good enough.

Now I know better, but I still strive for perfection. My perfectionism has helped me achieve academic excellence and strive to achieve all I set my mind to. -- Emma Seemann, Carlsbad H.S.

Most people know me as the girl with the bubbly personality who laughs at everything. My easygoing demeanor and frequent smile make me who I am. These traits insure my number-one motivation: to make my life memorable. I like to do things that are fun. It might seem selfish, but it's not; I care about other people, which is why I work at a retirement home. Fun doesn't always mean running around and doing things that only please yourself; it can mean doing things that make you feel better about yourself. This is a lesson I learned while growing up in my loving family. However, the lesson was complete after my parents split up and I realized how much it meant to my mom for me to help out with my younger brother or clean a little. Helping wasn't fun, but to see the relief on my mom's face and to hear the happiness in her words after I did something helpful cannot be accurately described in words.

Although having a positive, loving, and fun state of mind is beneficial to me and to others, it doesn't help the traits I am lacking. For example, I frequently lose my keys, identification cards, and friends' keys. My school papers have no organization to them, and my room is always messy. Throughout my high school career, I keep telling myself I must get more organized, but it never happens. As I get older and grow more independent and the necessity of being organized becomes crucial, the trait will probably begin to develop.

If I'd received more discipline when I was younger, I would not have to worry about the negative traits I have now. I would have learned as a child and applied them to my life. I try to teach my little brother to stay organized and keep the house clean, but I am afraid he's going to end up in the same position I am in now. -- Lexie Sebring, Carlsbad H.S.

At the moment, I would describe myself as a nerd. This year, my primary objective has been to do well in school. I am a junior in high school, which means that this year is one of the most important in determining what kind of university I will be accepted by; and the university will determine what kind of job I will hold in the future. Although I tend to be wishy-washy on a lot of issues, one thing that I am sure of is that I do not want to have a job that makes me sit in a corner and pull my hair out. I have seen the effects of stressful and unsatisfying jobs on people I am close to, and I never want to be put in that situation. I believe that your career should be your passion, not just a way to earn money. So, if it means that I have to work my butt off right now in order to obtain a better life when I am older, then that is what I am going to do. I think that the way my parents brought me up had a lot to do with my current attitude about my education and future. They pushed me to do my best and never settle for anything less than that. They helped me realize that if I decide to slack off or be irresponsible, it will only hurt me.

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