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Overcoming shyness

1st place $50

By Samia Temsah, 16, Verdugo Hills HS

Throughout my whole life, I have been very shy around strangers. It was something that I wanted to overcome, but when the time came, I would chicken out. I was especially shy around guys I liked—something I thought would never change. But all of this changed last November.

For about four years, I have been in love with the lead singer of Savage Garden, Darren Hayes. He is my role model and I completely adore him. I had met him before but every time had been a disaster. When I met him the only thing that would come out of my mouth was a soft whisper, "Hello." I promised myself that I would actually have a conversation with him, but I never had the guts to do it.

By this time I had met Darren three times and the most I had said to him was "Hello" and "Thank you." I felt like a complete imbecile. I vowed that the next time I met him, I would blurt out everything that popped into my head.

So last November I had the opportunity to meet him again. When Darren came over to me, I let my mouth go. I introduced myself, thanked him for his beautiful music and told him that he was my role model. I did all this before he could say a word. I was afraid he was going to laugh and walk away, but he didn’t. He thanked me for being so supportive of him. He told me that he thought I was cute. I had died and gone to heaven!

When I met him before, we only talked for about two minutes. But on this mystical day, he sat and talked with me for about 15 minutes. We totally connected. Not only did I overcome my shyness, but I also got to hang out with the nicest, most generous person I have ever met.

This marked the day that my shyness diminished. I realized that if I go all out and be myself, nothing can stop me. If I am shy and disconnected, life will just pass me by.

Turning 16

2nd place $30

By Jennifer Griffith, 16, Carson High School

My greatest success was living to see my 16th birthday. The reason that’s such a great success for me is because I used to be in a gang.
When they jumped me in, they gave me a nickname. I told them I did not want it. I wanted to keep the one my grandpa gave me before he died. So they beat my a– again and said, "OK, keep that gay name."

But I am out of that and I’ve been out for three or four months. I still kick it with them.

Another reason it’s my greatest success to live for this long is because I used to be all drugged up and drunk all the time. My mom was the biggest b—- alive. I used to cut my wrist.

The last reason it’s cool that I’m still alive is because I am not locked up. I don’t do drugs anymore and don’t drink anymore. I come to school and am passing mostly all my classes.

Doing my best in school
3rd place $20

By Veronica Aguilar, 16, Carson High School

My greatest success was when I was going to a private school in L.A. and I was doing badly in school. I would have to stay after school every day, because I was so bad. I was so disappointed in myself. I knew my parents were as well.

One day I got in so much trouble that I decided to do good. I was tired of having to hide my report cards all the time. So I started doing my work. It still wasn’t my best, but at least I was doing better than usual.

Teachers started to give my mom good comments about me and said that I was trying. I knew when I got my next report card that my mom would be happy.

My mom started buying me clothes and talking to me. She was usually mad at me, but she started to change with me.

One day my class went to an assembly. I was just sitting there watching the honor roll students get their little plaques, when, to my surprise, they called my name. They gave me two awards: a plaque and a little blue ribbon. I could not believe it, and my parents couldn’t either. I was so happy and so were my parents. I decided I liked the feeling and was proud of myself.