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The Secret of Happiness: Drawing Doors

Joined: 12/31/2015
Posts: 2
I was a child of habit. Every day, I would repeatedly draw the same simple image: a door. They were no masterpieces--shakenly-drawn rectangles in blue ballpoint pen that were always accompanied with a fluorescent, highlighter-yellow doorknob--but I drew approximately fifteen of them daily nevertheless. I was obsessed not with individual doors, but with their progression. I always started with a tiny rectangle and expanded it gradually until the final door fit barely within the 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of paper.

When I grew weary of staying within the lines, I moved on to a greater expanse: the table. When the pen marks on the table provoked a lecture from my mom, I found a better way. I spent an afternoon taping together a dozen sheets of paper into one large sheet, and proudly drew my final door as large as my bed comforter.

In many ways, high school is the exact opposite of my eccentric habit. For one thing, no one can sit still and steady when there are grades to earn, activities to manage, and resumes to fill. And no one would ever take the time to do something as pointless as drawing doors.

Yet, and perhaps consequently, my love for drawing doors became my mental safe haven, my personal and unique secret to happiness.

When high school seems too noisy with everyone’s talk about their futures and the work and the passive-aggressive nothings, I put myself into my four-year-old self, blocking out the adult worries of past and future, blocking out everything but a sharp focus on my present task: the paper in front of me.

When I feel as though my life, my friendships, my journalism work, or my ambitions are falling to pieces, I remind myself of the patience it takes to carefully patch those dozen sheets of paper together.

And perhaps most importantly, when society forces me to question myself, when the unpredictable earthquake of reality shakes the foundation of my beliefs until I am surrounded only by a lonely independence--I picture my pudgy younger self sitting contently at a desk, devoting hours to a task neither wanted nor needed by anyone else, and caring not one whit about the fact.

In high school, people discombobulate me when they throw different identifiers at my face. They like to remind me of my GPA, my miniscule number of Facebook friends, the color of my skin, the accent that slants my speech. But I remember now my own identifier, my own small secret to happiness, my own way of opening a door for myself.

I remember the naive defiance of drawing outside the lines.

I remember that there is always a bigger canvas.

I remember the humble and simple essence of who I am that I discovered at age four...

...I am a serene child with her own peace of mind, unafraid of eccentricity or independence, steadily creating one door at a time...
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Secret of Happiness essay being chosen as one of our finalists in the running for 1st place for our April / May 2016 teen writing competition. Be proud of your accomplishment!

We are in the process of selecting our top three winners, and naming the 1st place winner from the narrowed field.

We will post all winning essay results by July 31st 2016. You can check this page for the results after July 31st:

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 9:53:52 PM
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Secret of Happiness essay being chosen as a runner up for our April / May 2016 teen writing competition.

We apologize for our tardiness in getting out the results of this competition. Stageoflife is in the midst of an evolution, and we are no longer running a writing contest. We are so happy that so many talented writers submitted their work over the years and we appreciate your talent and your time.

We hope that you continue your writing journey and we are glad that we were a small part of it.

We will post all the updated winners and results of our contest by the end of October 2016 on the following page:

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Monday, September 26, 2016 2:54:06 PM
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Comment by bican304

Joined: 1/31/2019
Posts: 1
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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 7:51:38 AM
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