When I come downstairs for breakfast, I am greeted by the sound of the morning news. The reporters may use different words or talk about different events but the stories are the same, the coronavirus and foreign interference in our elections. I recognize that the two basic concepts at issue are fear and lack of integrity, both of which are important in our everyday lives. The more I think about this, I realize that with determination you can overcome fear and live a life with integrity.
I associate integrity with the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It can also refer to the state of being whole and undivided. Despite how you define it, integrity is important in everyone’s lives, including teenagers. It is a quality that makes people trustworthy and honest, allows systems to work, and fosters growth and trust in relationships. Maintaining integrity within a family means being honest with one another about our feelings and in our deeds. Good character and decency within friendships is equally important. Being honest and living by a high code of moral ethics is so important at an age where peer pressure can often influence behavior. Maintaining integrity will help the relationships between you, your family, and your friends to stay close and meaningful. In school and sports, integrity means being respectful of your teachers, coaches, teammates and opponents, regardless of whether you are winning or losing.
If maintaining integrity is the key to success, what is standing in our way? Fear. As high school students we all face fear on a daily basis. Most of us do not have a fear of contracting the coronavirus, but still, our fears interfere with our lives. It can be the fear of letting our parents and teachers down with a bad grade, the fear of not having the “right” friends, the fear that we will not get into the college of our choice or the fear that we will be cut from a team. It can even be the fear that we will have nothing to do on a Friday night. These fears can be so consuming that they prevent us from making good decisions and succeeding in our ultimate goals.
Is there a way to live a life where we are not paralyzed by our fears and we can act with integrity? The answer is yes, and the key is determination. Through determination we can achieve our best grades, spend extra time with family talking about our feelings, or stand up for what we think is right when friends may be making a questionable decision. As the future of our nation, we must stay determined to overcome our fears and act with integrity so that we can successfully face new challenges, continue to make discoveries and prepare for our futures.
Zack Siegel is a student columnist from Port Washington