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Don't despair about risks; live your life
Meagan Cole attends Lakeview Academy. She placed second in the Gainesville Evening Optimist Club’s essay contest. She is the daughter of James and Leslie Cole.
Today's choices affect my future because I may not be here tomorrow. Before I move along, I assure everyone that I am not suicidal and am not medicated with anti-depressants or any other drugs regarding the end of a person's life. I'm simply stating a fact. A person's anatomy is incredibly fragile, and day-to-day life has various risks. I prefer to risk it all.

One of my greatest achievements in life has been my tennis. Not only does it help relieve the stress of a busy high school student by serving balls at several miles per hour, but it has shown me that people really do care. I continue the sport for the social aspects, even if there is a risk of injury. My tennis injury showed me, as another member of my team carried me off the court, that I am not alone. However painful that experience was, it affected my future to choose between giving in and sucking it up. My decision was to step on that court another day.

Another important distinction that I have made to define myself as a person was through a close-knit group of friends. Prior to May 19, 2007, there were 13 very significant figures in my life and at my school. Like most students, they had to move on to college. I would risk anything before letting something happen to them. The Saturday that they graduated, I've never cried more in public. As they rounded me up in the center of a group hug, I felt complete. They affected my future by always being there for me. In turn, I will do the same.

Finally, it comes down to the one issue I spoke of before: suicide. Not myself, but another was threatened by this crucial act. It was imperative that I keep this from happening, for my sake, but even more so, for hers. Her attempt to kill herself failed. As close as she came after a dozen pills and a sentencing to the hospital's psychiatric clinic, her risk was more costly than any other. That week, I could not speak. I could not breathe. It was the end of the line. She risked more than enough to cease it all, and I risked everything to keep her by me.

Life stops. It's nothing to be afraid of. Today, tomorrow, at some point, it will happen. The future will hold more risks and even more choices, but they shouldn't weigh a person down. Barenaked Ladies says in one of their albums, "If I hide myself wherever I go, am I ever really there?" What would my past amount to if I hadn't played tennis or been at the graduation for the class of 2007 or reached out to my suicidal best friend? In the end, it would mean very little. I suggest ignoring the risks of death and despair, because a person has to live. Our choices today shape our future of those of others.

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