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This I Believe: I Believe in Acceleration

Ainslie Wilson - Glenwood High School
Beatrice Bonner
NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS
Ainslie Wilson - Glenwood High School

“Accelerate!” The voices of coaches and parents ring in the air. I throw myself at the finish line, knowing the race will soon be over, and I can allow relief, pride, and oxygen to once again flood my body.

I believe in acceleration.

Beyond the era of middle-school cross country, I have made acceleration an accidental habit. My naturally poor posture and quick pace make me a hallway speed-walker; my habit of listening to true crime on long runs scares me into Olympian speed. In all that I do, I sometimes find myself accelerating toward one goal, head down, arms pumping.

My most important encounter with acceleration came junior year, in AP Physics. Daily, I was whisked away from the safe and comfortable walls of AP Language & Composition, and thrust into a puzzle of pendulums and frictionless ramps. When preceded by the lively and captivating environment of literary discussions and Socratic Seminars, Physics pulled me out of Plato’s Cave and into the harsh light of the cruel world (or maybe lab station?) However, beyond the formulas and theorems, lay a definition that I find significant in all aspects of life:

Acceleration can be a change in direction, not just speed.

As someone who often finds herself screaming in her own ear to accelerate, with all the intensity and volume of a middle-school cross country coach, I was shocked. Could it be that “success” is not defined as simply gaining speed? Could it be that acceleration involves exploration and curiosity too?

Although I was once hesitant to make any sort of pitstop, diverge from the planned route, or turn from my carefully-calculated future, I have learned to accelerate. As I look toward my future, there are so many things I want to pursue, and my laundry list of interests grows every day. I’m happiest curating shower standup routines, participating in kitchen-counter political rants, scribbling millions of abandoned journal entries, and fostering an insatiable desire to share my dictionary-length catalog of ideas with the world. I’m fascinated by music, theatre, comedy, economics, writing, and philosophy. I’ve realized that it’s valuable to slow down and take the necessary turns to develop all of those passions.

Of course, change direction too often and you’ll run in a circle, and that’s track, not cross country.

Though I may not always be bolting at a visible finish line, by delving into multiple areas of interest, I am always accelerating, rather than gaining speed in just one facet of my persona. I am so excited for the beautiful course ahead as I change direction with room for many destinations. I believe in acceleration. Life is not a cross country race, it’s a highway (thank you, Tom Cochrane) with twists, turns, exits, and rest areas, all equally deserving of exploration.

This I Believe Illinois is NPR Illinois' annual essay program for Illinois high school seniors. An expression of where their minds are as they prepare to enter the adult world. This I Believe was started by radio journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1951 to allow anyone able to distil the guiding principles by which they lived. Special thank you to our sponsors: The Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, State Journal-Register, BLH Computers, KEB, Marine Bank, and Roni Mohan of RE/MAX Professionals Springfield.

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