Introductory Reflective Essay

“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” -George Orwell

I can still remember the feeling of trying to fit in. Childhood is a wonderful time where kids can be carefree and express themselves, but for me, it was a time of trying to find acceptance. As a child, I bounced around from friend group to friend group trying find a place where I felt comfortable. I tried acting in plays and improve shows, but that wasn’t for me. I also tried to get into music by taking guitar lessons. Some other children and I put on performances as our moms sat in the audience with their video cameras, but once again I felt out of place. At school, I tried hanging out with the smartest kids, hoping that they were the ones who I would get along with, but yet again I found myself trying to be someone I was not. Most children go through similar scenarios, except most kids end up finding a passion and settling into a friend group. Then, my mom signed me up for church league soccer and everything changed. For the first time, I felt like this was something I was really good at, this is where I was suppose to be. I began playing more sports such as basketball and flag football (normal football once I got to 4th grade) and suddenly, I felt like I had found my passion. I made countless friends and finally felt like I was accepted into a group.

As I got older, I realized that acceptance is not just a childhood phenomenon. Throughout life, everyone seeks acceptance, not just into a particular group, but also with everything they do. For example, my parents love me no matter what I do yet I always tried to impress them by getting good grades and preforming well in sports. At work, people try to outperform their coworkers in order to impress their boss. Whether you realize it or not, people are constantly seeking approval and acceptance from others. We all want approval. We want it from our friends, family, teachers, and bosses. It is a timeless resource that humans can’t get enough of.

Although my pieces are very different in content, the central theme of my portfolio is how people find acceptance and ultimately, find themselves. It began with the piece on “Gender Studies,” where I examined how Nell’s search for her license related to her trying to find an identity for herself. After breaking up from a long-term relationship, Nell felt lost and alone. After dating for eleven years, she was left with nothing except her job as a professor. Simultaneously, Nell misplaces her licenses and frantically tries to track it down. As she retraced her steps, she was almost certain that she dropped it in the cab. She called Luke, her cab driver, and asked if he had the license. The two ended up meeting later on and having a fun time together, but to her surprise, he didn’t have her license. Nell was almost certain he had her license and essentially her new identity, but he didn’t. Her search to find her license and someone new continued. In dating, people often search for someone who likes them and accepts them for who they are. Sometimes losing that person can cause you to lose yourself too.

In my second work, I decided to focus on how acceptance is interpreted differently by everybody. I focused on basketball star, LeBron James, in regards to how he returned to Cleveland and brought them a championship of their own. LeBron faced criticism from everyone throughout his career for his inability to win a championship. There was no denying that he was a phenomenal player, but in the end, success is often measured by a player’s ability to win important games. LeBron could have easily ignored these critics and been satisfied with the career he had already put together; however, LeBron searched for approval by pursuing a championship. LeBron left Cleveland to join the Miami Heat, where he captured his first championship. He went on to win another championship in Miami, but he was still unsatisfied. Ultimately, he wanted to win a championship for his beloved city, Cleveland. He had finally earned acceptance from his critics by winning two championships, but he wanted to be remembered as a hero in Cleveland. This piece highlights how acceptance and identity are subjective to everyone. By seeking approval through championships, LeBron shaped his image into the player we know today.

In my third work, I focus on factors that affect the way people find acceptance. Specifically, I talk controversies about money in the world of sports. For many athletes, acceptance means getting paid lots of money or at least getting paid the same amounts as others. It is interesting to see how money can influence people’s decisions and ultimately shape who they are as a person. It is easy to see the difference between people who play sports for the money and people who play because they have a passion for it.

I found inspiration for my portfolio through my love for sports. For me, sports began as a way for me to find acceptance, make friends, and have fun. Over the years, I developed a deep passion for not only playing sports, but watching them as well. I found it easy to write most of my pieces because they were on topics that I knew a lot about. Rather than writing essays, it felt like I was writing stories just for fun. The first piece was the most difficult because it was the most structured in regards to what I had to write about. As we moved into the other pieces, the freedom allowed me to write about my passions, which made the process easier. As I reflected on my childhood, I realized that searching for acceptance is something that everybody goes through. I continued to think about it more and I realized that all of my essays featured the same theme of people trying to find themselves as a person.

As you look through my portfolio, I want you to think times that you’ve searched for acceptance, both consciously and subconsciously. For me, searching for acceptance helped me find what I was truly passionate about. I want you to reflect on how those times have shaped you into the person you are today. I hope you enjoy it.