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Future is based on our decisions today
Mark Casper, a student at Gainesville High School, was the winner of the Hall County Optimist Club’s essay contest. He is the son of Mike and Mary Casper.
In a practical sense, the definition of the word "choice," a decision made from a range of options, falls blatantly short of what the word implies. A choice is a decision made from a range of options, but the definition does not entail what, if anything, occurs afterward.

In reality, a choice, no matter how small, always has consequences. Therefore, it is logical to assume the choices that one makes today have a direct impact on the future. Yet, within the enigmatic domain of life, there are certain consequences that occur outside of our control (that is to say, that result from a decision not of our own).

Although this notion is inherent to life, it does not define it; it merely presents us with the illusion that no matter what we do, our future is outside of our control. However, though uncontrollable circumstances do exist, an individual's future is largely driven by the choices he/she makes, regardless of unforeseeable events.

William Jennings Bryan expressed the notion eloquently when he stated, "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

Evidence to support this concept can be found in individuals who have overcome enormous odds to achieve their destiny. Helen Keller is prime example of an individual who pursued her dreams through the choices she made, despite immeasurable odds and circumstances. Keller, who became blind and deaf as a result of an illness when she was 19 months old, eventually overcame her disability and became the first deaf blind person to graduate from college (she graduated magna cum laude from Radcliffe College with a Bachelor of Arts). She then went on to lead a highly productive life, becoming a world famous speaker, author, and political activist.

Undoubtedly, Keller's success could not have been achieved without the deliberate choices to work, study, and improve at communication and education.

Similarly, I have discovered for myself through baseball that a large percent of what happens to an individual in the future is a result of the choices that he/she made earlier. During the fall of my freshman year, I sustained a season-ending injury to my back. After I went through a period of depression and complacency towards my rehabilitation, I had an epiphany: I made the choice to take on a positive attitude and attack my problems, instead of allowing them to drag me down.

Nine months later, after a rejuvenated sense of purpose in which I dedicated myself to a rigorous rehabilitation regime and the adoption of a positive mental attitude, I completely recovered from the injury and made the varsity baseball team.

Ultimately, life is not defined by the events that happen to us, but what choices we make in spite of them. Our future lies in the decision to yield to them or to overcome them.

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