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For most of high school, I felt lost. While I was the brain in my elementary school classes, I no longer did well in school. My thoughts and self-image faded away, I lacked all ambition, and everything felt like a burden. I couldn’t stand the monotony and predictability of school and other activities and so I just didn’t put effort into anything.
It wasn’t until senior year that something utterly unexpected came into my life and gave it meaning – a card game called Magic: The Gathering. Though just a game, it is populated with countless creatures that have taught me some of the most important lessons in life: you’re more than your IQ, organization leads to less time wasted, seek knowledge whenever possible, balance work and play, and pursue your goals diligently.
I learned about Magic from a classmate named Richard, whom I started talking to at my parents’ friends’ home one evening. Richard had a GPA over 4.0 and when I asked him his secret, he said that he simply balanced his time. He pulled out a box and opened it to reveal hundreds of strange-looking cards. “This is called Magic: The Gathering,” he told me. “It helps.”
Almost immediately I was hooked. I found a small group of friends who played Magic and began the best few weeks of my life. Magic was new and different – fun, unpredictable, and thought-provoking. It broke the monotony that had been weighing me down and I was able to engage more fully in school. My grades jumped to a 3.5 GPA in the first six weeks after discovering Magic, and I plan on improving them further. My parents are astounded by my sudden change in attitude. I am no longer grumpy, and no longer dread my grade reports.
The Magic cards are of five colors, each of which offers the important lessons that have helped me turn my life around.
Black was the color I identified with at first, and is still my favorite color. The zombies and demons that populated black called out to me in their eternal sorrow, inviting me to join them. What I had failed to see were those controlling the dead and the demonic. The strings behind the zombies and demons used them to pursue goals without challenge. Black was not just a color of death and sorrow, it also represented a dogged pursuit of one’s goals. Black taught me to stand my ground and to be courageous. Now I defend my ideas, and am working up the courage to ask out a girl I like.
Red seemed at first to be comprised of beasts and savages, but I slowly began to realize that while they lacked knowledge that lived pretty satisfactory lives. This was an epiphany. I realized that my intellect was not the only thing that defined me. I began making new friends and reestablishing old ones. From a seemingly stupid group of goblins and barbarians I learned one of the most important lessons in my life: even without all the answers, I could still have fun with my friends.
White is all about law and order. Filled with soldiers and knights, white brings order in the Magic universe and brought order to mine. White taught me that a well-planned formation is more effective than a greater number of troops. As I slowly began to adapt white’s order to my life, I found that I was accomplishing more in less time than before. Now, I rarely lose assignments and have time to spare for social events.
Blue addresses knowledge. Blue was the color that I recognized as the old me. Full of scholars and intellectuals, blue reminded me to keep up my education. Regardless of how much time I played with blue, I realized that the color always required me to think and learn. Blue taught me that after having fun, one should diligently pursue knowledge.
Filled with animals, forests, and bugs, green represents life and harmony. Before I played magic, my life was either all work and no play, or all play and no work. Green taught me that everything must be balanced in order for life to be sustained. Now, I know when to take a break and when to come home after having fun at a friend’s house.
Magic has also brought me closer to a group of very interesting people from whom I have learned much in this short amount of time. When I first met Nick, he seemed very strange. I hadn’t realized that we shared three classes until we started playing Magic together. He always had a smile on his face and I came to realize it was because he knows how to balance work and play. He taught me to do the same, and I now play basketball regularly. Another person with whom I play is JJ, who constantly stresses about schoolwork during the game. From JJ I have learned how important it is to focus on the activity at hand, whether it’s Magic or homework or basketball. Whatever I am doing, I now do it with all my heart.
People might look down on me for spending time on this “childish game,” but I recognize that the lessons of Magic: The Gathering are universal and potentially life-changing. Somehow, that strange deck of cards has unlocked in me the traits I need to succeed in school, society, home – and, I am certain, at college.
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