If you ask me, life is nothing but a bunch of phases. You're always changing, always picking and choosing, always winning… and losing. But, through out my sixteen years of life, I've found that losing is only optional. Losing is for people who don't have the strength to fight. Losing is for people who look too far into the future, and let themselves get scared. You have to take life one step at a time. Shape yourself one piece at a time. Open your heart, one chamber at a time. If there was anything I learned about being a teenager, it's that as long as you keep breathing, life pick a course, hand you a map, and let you lead the way. Everybody has a story to tell, and everybody wants to be heard. Well, this is the story of a girl's journey to find her meaning. This is the story of a girl who threw away the map that her life handed her, drew her own map and walked her own path. This is my story.

I sat in fourth period philosophy, staring at my teacher Mr. Femmer, with what I can imagine was, an extremely skeptical look on my face. He was ranting and raving about how "life was nothing but a road" and "your only choice is to follow that road, and hope that it leads to success." He was complaining about the fact that too many people get it in their heads that they're the ones who control their own destiny. "Well, they're wrong!" He bellowed, throwing his arms up. "Every single person is born with their own set destiny and fate, and no matter what they do, they can't change it!" I heard a couple snickers from the back of the room. Mr. Femmer stopped for a moment and stared at them. They immediately stopped, and pretending to be taking notes on his lecture. Mr. Femmer pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, sighed, and leaned against his podium. "Alright," he said quietly. "Let's get some comments from the peanut gallery." I looked around. Nobody raised their hands. Mr. Femmer stroked his chin, the lack of response from his students didn't seem to faze him. "Then I guess this means everybody agrees with me," he said, eyeing us. Nobody said a word. "Well, then," he muttered, glancing at the clock, "I want an essay on my desk on the 'path of life' by next Friday." And with that, the lunch bell rang, and he dismissed us.

I slung my backpack over my shoulder and headed out into the bustling hallway. Of course I hadn't agreed with Mr. Femmer, however, I was a quiet student. I never gave my opinion in class, no matter what the circumstance. My life completely contradicted everything Mr. Femmer believed in. Every curveball life had ever sent me – I had picked up my bat, swung, and hit it out of the park. I wasn't one to give up easy. I was a fighter. Every single time my life had some sort of grim outlook, I would always overcome the obstacle and

My parents had laid out a path for me, and I had chosen to go my own way. They wanted me to be a respectful young lady, and an heir to the family business. My parents owned a line of Japanese restaurants than ran from Los Angels all the way up to Seattle. We resided in a little town just outside of Los Angels called Mount Sierra. I, however, had different plans for my future. I was planning to apply to The University of California: Los Angeles and pursue my dream, or rather, dreams. I had quite a few career choices lined up; Psychologist, a Japanese translator, freestyle writer, or, my favorite – a photographer. These things to my parents though…they weren't anything more than a child's dreams. "In a couple years, you'll forget about all that silly stuff,