The Alchemist from a failing student's perspective Elliot Miu-Martinez

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity." (134)

That quote brings me back to 2015 when Shia Lebouf posted the "Just Do It" motivational speech on YouTube. At the time when the video was released, I had just started high school and was trying to decide whether or not to swap in some easier classes into my absurdly difficult class schedule. To voluntarily take that rocky road might have seemed like a death wish to others, and in a way it was. By then end of the year, I dealt with constant anxiety, acid buildup in my stomach, sleep deprivation, and depression. All of those could have been avoided if I applied greater time management skills, a harder work ethic, and reached out to others for help before it got too late. A year and much easier classes later, I can firmly say that I resent my conservative decision to pull put of taking a bunch of AP classes sophomore year. After experiencing both sides of the class level spectrum first hand, I believe that the advanced class's environment is where I thrive and flourish the best. Although my high school track record completely disagrees with my previous statement, what's done is done. No one can alter their past, but everyone can move on and focus on improving the present by employing lessons derived from previous mistakes. There's no good reason to come up with excuses for last years performance and this year's too. Freshmen year was an obstacle that I just couldn't overcome and was the beginning of an endless hole still being dug by me now. A hole of missed opportunities, lost dreams, and lots of bad marks. Taking the route more friendly might have appeared as a great choice from an outsiders point of view, but It was simply a rash decision from an injured heart. In the end, It was all for naught because I had grown to sadistically enjoy the pain of having either a test or two quizzes every week for months on end. Now the classes can't suffice my needs for a constant adrenaline rush or satisfaction from achieving feats that many other 15 year olds would never hope of doing (except the Asians in China that study for 17 hours a day strapped to IV bags of course ;0). The pain I experienced from chickening out of harder classes this year is so, so much worse than the agony of a rigorous regiment of classes last year .

"When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream." (136)

Viewing this quote from a personal angle, good-willed beings will usually respect your dedication to accomplishing a task (last minute math homework etc.) by either helping you achieve it, or staying out of your way as a bystander. I guess in a way any negative occurrences in your path to achieving your dream could also be viewed in a positive light. Say a kid takes your math homework as a cruel prank and you can't turn it in on time. Now you've learned that the kid can't be trusted with anything and you should sit somewhere else while you work.

"It's not what enters men's mouths that's evil. It's what comes out of their mouths that is." (116)

Words are a huge part of our daily lives and can easily impact our mood and feelings towards oneself or another subject. Heart gripping words that unite the masses are how fascists rise to power. Highly appealing words that lighten a tense heart are used to form pacts between huge nations to prevent nuclear wars and to keep the peace. A teacher telling a student that their grade doesn't represent their capabilities but instead stand for their work ethic can change their outlook on school for the better or worse. What I'm trying to get to is that most people just don't put enough thought into their words because they don't truly realize (or care) how much of an effect they hold. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is a straight up lie.

"Don't think about what you've left behind." (137)

My grandfather's early childhood is a perfect example for this quote. Way back when world war two had started to amp up , my grandfather was born into a quite prosperous Chinese family with a positive view on life like any newborn child would have. But as the Japanese started to invade China, my grandfather's family had to leave all their belongings and wealth behind and rush to get onto boats with the very few belongings they could carry. They fell from a life of comfort and relaxation to the grubby low of the lowest of class in America. To fall from grace that hard makes it difficult for my grandpa to have a positive outlook on life because he can't let go of the past.

"Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time." (172)

Humans are creatures of habit and it's very easy to get addicted to an activity be it smoking, or the need to always be on social media to pass time. There are a lot of people who want to experience something firsthand and its up to them to judge whether or not they like it enough to continue. That's why a lot of people might have tried smoking a cigarette once in their life, but very few decided they enjoyed it enough that it was worth abusing their body to continue. My own personal experience that I can relate to this quote is not doing my math homework daily. You first start off by not finishing it for one day, then another day passes, and another, and another. Soon, the whole week blows by you and an intimidating stack of math homework has formed. I've learned that repeating good habits that led me to success in the past is a lot better than starting new bad work habits now.

"When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises." (167)

Research shows that people are regularly grateful are generally healthier and happier ("The Power of Gratitude," Ellen Seidman). After testing that out for myself, I found it true that I was a lot happier going to bed after recalling two events that occurred earlier in the day which made me grateful. Although it is a bit challenging to remain positive on a very sad or depressing day, I always seemed to perk up a bit after thinking about my two reasons which I remained grateful for.

Credits:

Created with images by lwpkommunikacio - "Az univerzum, ahogy Stephen Hawking látja" • VinothChandar - "On a misty morning... | Explored" • skeeze - "milky way andromeda stars" • flickr./com/photos/amanda_munoz - "Junior Year" • DonkeyHotey - "Donald Trump- Caricature" • Alex Holyoake - "Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones..." • freestock.ca ♡ dare to share beauty - "Cabot Trail Scenic Route - HDR" • Momentchensammler - "Welcome to China" • StockSnap - "smoking cigarette hand" • albertogp123 - "MPj04394190000[1]" • masayukig - "rising sun" • ErikaWittlieb - "bed pillows headboard"

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