It was a cold, winter day... or was it autumn. I don't remember. Amidst the conversations within the student council room, Mrs. Becker, I believe, walked up to the front of the classroom to give us an announcement. As we sat there listening, she told us that Student Council will go on a leadership retreat at Disneyland. At that moment, the class went into jubilee as feelings of excitement filled the room. Sitting in my chair, I was shocked. Never had this happened in all my years being in student council. To put it simply, I was excited. I began to count the days until the day we would leave for Disneyland.
Now, fast-forwarding towards the day we would leave, all of us, one by one, assembled in Bellingham International Airport. As everyone socialized amongst each other, pure excitement became the word to describe everyone's faces. I was no exception. I knew that I would partake on adventure full of joy.
Throughout the plane ride, I had a conversation with one of my close friends. This friend in particular had been my friend ever since I joined student council back when I was such a shy person and, in my opinion, she helped me break out of my shell that I was trapped in. As we were talking, I began to realize that I stopped being awkward around people most of the time. Until that moment, I didn't know how natural it was to interact with others. I would just usually keep to myself. However, I realized that I am able to start friendships with others, like any other person, thus giving me confidence to be the person I am today. That was the first realization that I had as a result of this trip; the first of many. Then, after our flights, we landed in Los Angeles. Our trip had finally commenced.
The next day, we walked to Disneyland for our first leadership seminar. Excited for what was in store for us, I ran towards the land of dreams; the happiest place on Earth. Then, as our first seminar began, I wondered what I would learn that day. There, we met with our leader and we went through our first leadership training session.
At the time, I learned the usual stuff, such as “What makes a good leader?” and things like that. Though I felt as I have heard that kind of stuff before, I still had the will to learn more. That was when I learned about Walt Disney and what made him a good leader. Walt Disney is a person who started out as an animator, but he ended up being much more. Though there were many good qualities about him, there was one thing that stood out to me the most. I learned how he had to adapt in many situations, a really good quality of an effective leader. As the person explained, that was when I learned just how leader-like he was. Before, I didn't think much about him, but now, I see him as a role model; someone whose values are those I want to emulate. Right then and there, I realized what it takes to be a good leader, one that would be a positive influence at the school.
The next day was our next training seminar. Trying to keep the events of the day before out of my head, we walked into California Adventure, the park right beside Disneyland. Over there, there were many things that had happened, but the one that stood out for me was when we had to balance frisbees on our heads as we walked through something like an obstacle course. While doing this, I thought that if I walked fast, then there would be less time to complete it, therefore, less chances to fall. That was something that was completely wrong. Speeding through the course, I noticed that I kept on falling down, along with my frisbee. Though I didn't think of it at the time, while writing this, I realized something.
Life isn't something that you can speed through, nor is it something that you can speed through. I thought I could do it quickly, but that didn't work out whatsoever. When relating this to my life, I could say that, during many sad moments throughout my life, such as the death of my father, I thought that it would all work out simply. However, it doesn't always go as planned and that one would have to accept any obstacles that would happen. I thought that it would all go quickly, so that many of these sad moments wouldn't hurt me. However, life doesn't speed up for you, nor is it something which you can speed up yourself. After looking back on those kinds of moments, I learned that life is complex and you have to go through it slowly, facing any obstacles in the way.
Then, later, we went on Soaring Over California, a ride that's meant to mimic the feeling of flying, while images of California showed up on the screen. As I sat down, when we were lifted in the air, I felt as if I was weightless and free. After a while, as the images were displayed on the screen, the chairs began to move as if we were really soaring over California, over a vast landscape that seemed endless. As I reflect on that particular moment, I realized that Soaring Over California is also analogous to life. It is something where you can be free as you go through many places throughout your entire life. This was when I realized something that changed my views on life.
I realized that there are many obstacles in life. After all, life is complex. You would have to face obstacles eventually and you would eventually have to find a way to get past them. Despite all of that, I also realized that life is a vast landscape. Keeping that in mind, I learned that even though I would face many obstacles, life is endless and it is yours for the making. Of course, one would have to adapt in order to get through the obstacles, and that is something that I'm in the process of going through. Despite that, when the time comes where I would move on from all those undesirable feelings, I can finally move on and choose my path in life, because though life is extremely hard to navigate through, it is a blank canvas, free for you to paint all over.
Now, as I am writing this composition, I have come to learn that this trip had changed my life entirely. In the past, I was a person who always kept to himself, and as well, someone who thought that life is easy to navigate through, believing that everything would work in my favour, while at the same time, wanted to be a great leader. However, upon reflecting on the experiences that I had gone through in Disneyland, I have learned many things.
1. I learned just how complex life is and what obstacles I would have to face in order to live out my life.
2. I learned just how much I had changed, starting out as a shy eighth-grader who always kept to himself to a person who is starting to become more confident with his peers, someone who is breaking out of their shell.
3. I learned how to be a great leader too, learning from Walt Disney's example in order to learn just what it takes to be an effective leader, especially the ability to adapt.
I came to this trip to learn what it takes to be a good leader, but something else took place as well. I learned so many things that slowly changed my outlook on life. As all of these perceptions changed during those four days, I have come to realize just one more thing...
Disneyland truly is a magical place. I expected that by joining Student Council, I would only help out with the school, something that I enjoyed doing. However, after this trip, I became astounded at how my life changed in a way that I would never expect. I have learned so many things as a result of this trip and it will forever be an adventure I would cherish. Disneyland is not just the land of dreams or the happiest place on Earth. It is a place where people's lives change for the better.