Modesty. Simplicity. Practicality.

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

I could not understand. There was no sign of trash on the streets. There was no trace of graffiti on the benches or walls. Everything was impeccably clean and simple in the middle of Stockholm, Sweden, with its 780,000 inhabitants. It is still a wonder how the country looked like a beautiful dollhouse, kept in the utmost condition by its caretaker. Every room in the dollhouse had only exactly what it needed and the nostalgia seeping from the images, created a distinct peace and happiness. Little did I know that stepping into this life-size dollhouse would open many new windows and doors.These windows and doors were opened when I stayed in the magnificent capital of Sweden. Among the eighty other choir members on the school trip with me, and the natural bustle of the city, it would have been so easy to concentrate on souvenir shopping and gourmet eating like any other tourist; however, that was not the course my mind took. Inside the elegant and empty-feeling theater, we rehearsed my favorite song, “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen, as it rang, bouncing off the four walls gracefully. My favorite dissonance chord sounded more beautiful than ever. Why did it sound so good compared to all the other times we had sung it? Was it the space? Sure, the gloriously simple theater might have contributed to the fact that the music flowed through my ears so peacefully, but something else was brewing inside of me. After the concert, we went to a cozy restaurant with the Swedish choir with whom we sang in the theater. Consequently as one of the best yet accidental choices of my life, I sat down next one of the members. Naturally, it first seemed like a game of get to know you questions, but soon after, it became a much more of an enlightening discussion for me. The student told me that all he wanted to do was play his flute, piano, and study diligently. He chose not to mention that his music academy was world renowned and filled with the most talented musicians in the country. He could have sounded like any other student bragging about his accomplishments, but something was really different: I was prompted to speak about my own participation in school activities and other life experiences. Why did he care to hear more about me than to talk about himself? I then realized some people in this world live in such a humble way that no one even notices. There were no superficial concerns existing in these two hours of conversation. Such modesty in words led me to find fascination and I knew I wanted to strive for a simple, minimalist lifestyle.People often ask others or themselves, “How do you want to live your life?”. We are often swayed by the pressures of our friends and family to think a certain way, but when do you realize how you really want to live? At least for me, it was just a matter of time. I was waiting for an inspiration. After that one night, it all came to me. It was not just meeting one person that impressed me with his lifestyle or my admiration of the country. It was about discovering a philosophy of life and the values that are developed along with it. It was no Odyssey-scale journey, but just a quiet awakening. Everything has the capability of being simple and practical, just like the formations of highways with traffic-reducing juggernauts to the layout of streets in the Swedish towns. There is never any need for superfluities or superficiality that just makes life that much more unnecessarily complicated. Given the necessities, living life modestly will lead to a down-to-earth lifestyle and happiness is sure to come.Modesty. Simplicity. Practicality. These words are values in everyday culture, but they come alive to me now. It was an epiphany of the way to live my life, springing from the most unimaginable source. Tears fell down my face as we drove away from Stockholm, a little out of sadness but mainly out of happiness. I had never felt so confident with my future, nor had I ever felt so happy about truly confirming my individual values in life. I walked out of the dollhouse with a new light shed on me and the doors and windows wide open.

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