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All of us trip and fall at points in our lives. Some of us stay down, too scared from the pain to get up, or just too unwilling to work to get up. Some of us get up, but we are hesitant to go forward, and just stay where we are.

Some of us get up and move forward, slowly, but never with the pace and confidence that we earlier had in our stride. But there are a few of us who get up, dust ourselves off, and go forward stronger, learning from our mistakes and ready to take on any obstacle.

We fear falling down, and consequently slow our pace or stop completely so that we don’t get hurt. We fear pain, so we shorten our goals so that we can’t hurt ourselves in trying to achieve them.

But, is it worth giving up our dreams to avoid all pain? Is it worth giving up our hopes and goals to avoid something that is inevitable? Should we just lock ourselves away, along with everything we dream of doing? No. We cannot. We should not. We must not let fear dictate our lives.

We must not give up our dreams so easily. Too many of us live for others. Build our lives around what people want us, expect us, to be. Conform, mold, tear apart our true selves, our true ambitions, dreams, and goals, just to appease others. Your life is not somebody’s puppet, but you must take the strings into your own hands.

Do not give weight to other people’s jeers, their insults. Take them in stride, reflect on them, but don’t let them dictate your actions, your choices, your life.

Because in the end, it doesn’t matter what they think of you, what they see you as. Brave. Terror. Cold. Joyful. Heartless. Savior. All that matters is what you choose.

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I am Adarsha Shivakumar, a 15 year old guy. I am a sophomore at the College Preparatory School in Oakland, CA. I live in Pleasant Hill, CA, with my parents and sister. I am an environmental enthusiast who is the founder and executive director of Project Jatropha, an international collaboration designed to help alleviate rural poverty and stop environmental destruction in rural south India. I love reading, as well as watching various kaiju (Japanese for “giant monster”) movies. I like swimming; my hero, Coach Doug, taught me how to swim even after many failures. I’m an intense, enthusiastic, determined, and hyperactive individual with a mind that puts the Flash to shame when racing. I’m a fan of a diverse series of shows, ranging from Family Guy, to Mythbusters, to Man vs. Wild, to Spongebob, to Futurama, to Robot Chicken. I thoroughly enjoy science fiction and fantasy books, such as the Bartimaeus Trilogy and the Space Odyssey series, and aspire to become a great scientist and world dictator one day. I like to seize the day, and I’m known for a voice that is unrivaled in volume and ability to traverse long distances through any barriers. I’m a cynical viewer of humanity who wants to improve our society as a whole by starting with those on the lowest rungs of society.

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