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Standing before me is Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes of North America; a boundary between here and there, or more specifically, the United States and Canada. It is the fourth largest lake in the US by volume, and masks as more of a sea or for a child, an ocean, than it does for a lake. To many these numbers are just facts, but to me, it is reality. I sit here at the beach at the end of my street; a place that I have come to many times. The allure marvels me, yet it has become trivialized by frequent strolls and drives, and the chaos of day to day life.
As a child, I could point out my lake on the map and know where I was. Once my parents allowed me to ride my bicycle around the neighborhood on my own, I found myself drawn there. I travelled along the water’s edge, sneaking peeks of the great blue horizon in between houses that seemed the same. In my young mind, it was massive; to me it was an ocean. When I finally got my license, I found myself here by the lake. Life was often stressful, but the lake became my escape. It was my place that I could be alone, a place to reflect. The lake washed away my shortcomings as a student, daughter, athlete, and employee. I’ve been labeled a perfectionist, a title that is often accurately associated with stress. I humorously fixate on small details, all to culminate into a bigger plan.
I have tried many ways to cope with my little bubble of “organized chaos” from yoga to baking to any other activity you could find when you google “how to relieve stress”. Going to the lake has always been the best stress relief for me. There is something about water, staring off into a vast horizon like Lake Ontario that is so humbling. It reminds us that there is something bigger planned for us. I let go of the small details. It reminds me that I am human, that I am not just one bad grade, that I am not just one failed lesson plan at karate, that I am not just one accidental flip flop sent down a waterslide at the amusement park I work at. There is something about this lake, the humbling effect that it has on me that brings me back again and again. I will always be the girl with some resentment when I don’t get things right — that is just as much a part of my blood as the lake is — but the lake has taught me perspective; that not all things are life and death and that we can march on from our mistakes and our shortcomings.
Every time I stop by the lake, it is a rebirth. A step in a new direction. It is a connection back to where I have come from- a connection back to not only nature, but to human nature– and a connection back to where I am going. It is easy to get swept up in the game of life, yet by the lake there is none of my internal competition. I am not only able to reflect, but to look forward. Across the lake is Toronto, the largest city in Canada. When I stare across my lake, I picture it: its large buildings and the CN Tower protruding against the skyline. I am reminded of why I work hard, why I continue to push. It is for my dreams. My dreams of being a lawyer someday and giving back to those who need my help. It is so easy, almost inevitable to forget them, but when I gaze across the lake, I reach out and move the clouds, parting the sky to find my dream kept across the lake right where I left it. By the lake, this is where I am brought back to my goals and motivations; the ones that make up my identity. So many of my most important thoughts and moments have happened there and will continue to happen there; my parent’s wedding, training for my black belt, my last walk with my childhood dog, every single Fourth of July, the writing of this essay. It is so magnificent to remember where you came from, because it reminds you of where you are going.
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