When we talk of demons and angels, we usually imagine some cartoon characters, yet the battle is quite real. “Parents left a new-born baby outside the hospital. Another cruel case of child abandonment in our city” newspapers reported on that day, “Luckily, as an act of mercy, the little girl was adopted by a couple who passed by”. Thirty-seven years later, the same newspaper reported: “A kindhearted woman, together with her friends, made thousands of rice dumplings for survivors in the tremendous earthquake”. These few lines sound dry and concise, yet they determined my mother’s fate, as she was the protagonist of both stories. Whether they wish that or not, parents are always the ones who mold their children’s characters. No matter, whether children deny it or try to rebel, they are destined to take the best and the worst from their parents. Being role models is not an easy thing to do but the truth is that parents act as reference books for their offspring to read.

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They say that cruelty causes cruelty but the human life itself is about free will and conscious choices. The beginning of mother’s life was not a bed of roses, she had to discover herself and struggle for who she was. Her childhood was different from that of other children because she never knew her biological parents. The sense of belonging to a family is so important to a child, yet at moments she felt lost in a big world. Children can be cruel and hurt without realizing what they do. She was teased occasionally by some of her classmates about the fact that she did not have parents. This was the first piece of adult suffering for a little girl’s soul, which was supposed to be carefree.

When at school, her only wish was to escape and hide into her own little world where no one could find and hurt her. So, this is what she did in her first years, skipping classes, trying to run away from reality and from her peers’ pressure. Yet, suffering seems to have a positive side, it makes a person search the answers and it gives strength, in the end, to keep to one’s real self. So, this was probably what happened to my mother, who learned how to recognize what is really meaningful and worth living for. Her troubles made her grow up and mature very early, and so the young girl became determined to stand for her values. Her father once told her: ” It is our own choice whether to choose the angels’ side or the devils’ side.” And taught her to see the world from the “angel’s perspective”. My mother gradually changed her attitude towards life. Because she became confident of her identity, other people started to respect and admire her. She made many friends at school and had a great academic achievement. After graduation from a prestigious university, my mother eventually worked as a manager. Since then, she has actively participated in charity volunteer work, especially targeting those orphans who suffered from child abandonment.

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I learned the importance of being optimistic and active when I was very young, though this knowledge often came in bitter ways. A real case in daily life usually delivers the message clearer then cliche textsschool booksooks. One of my relatives got married at a young age regardless of the opposition of the family members. Her post marriage life was so difficult as she was too immature to handle pressures of the family, work, education and etc. The marriage was falling apart step by step, day by day. She chose a bad strategy to deal with her problems. She just ignored them and it made her feel safer for a short period of time. Instead of taking actions, she gave up and closed in her inner world. Depression haunted her and made all problems seemed unsolvable. Her self-esteem was low, and she never shared her thoughts with anyone else. The huge mountain finally collapsed. She committed suicide a few years ago, leaving two little kids behind. If she had been more optimistic towards problems she was facing, she could definitely figure out a buffered solution and her kids would not be losing their mother’s love. Besides, her loneliness was the last drop, as she did not realize that she could turn to her family for support and help.

It is easier said than done. It is impossible to always look on the bright side of life. We are not saints. There might be times when we are standing on the edge of cliff struggling. e are to realize that we are what we think about ourselves. Our thoughts are our future, write them down and see whether this kind of future appeals to you? If no, just rewrite your statements in a more positive way. Everything in this life needs to be trained. Why do you think that optimism is different? Let your life be a continuous optimism training session. Pessimism and optimism are just habits, and it is often more alluring to choose pessimism because it requires no responsibility. Optimism requires more courage and patience, and yet it is more worth respect.

As a child of my mother, I have tried to be optimistic facing every single obstacle of my life. When I was in elementary school, I never was that kind of students who had superb academic achievements. I often felt frustrated, as I could never calculate a simple mathematic operation with which others coped without hesitation; I could never write a sophisticated essay. I could never understand those colorful pictures drawn on science books. My parents and I gathered on a Sunday morning to discuss my situation. “I know you have been trying hard to study.” said my mum. “You shouldn’t be upset. This only proved that your talents are in other than academic field direction. Let’s try something else.” At that moment, I felt like I was being injected a vaccine with solution called “confidence”. I joined various extracurricular activities like sports, music, arts and so on, at the same time taking off campus tutorial classes. The time period that other students used to revise was more “creatively” used by me. To my surprise, I attained pretty good result in those ECA fields. Skills and confidence that I acquired since then brought me far today. I felt glad that my parents did not force me to “duck fed” knowledge from textbooks, but helped me see through the problem positively.


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When I was a senior in high school, colleges called out my name. Every day I debate where to matriculate. However, poor high school performance restrained me from many opportunities. Most of my family relatives thought it was impossible for me to attend a university in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, their comments did not discourage me. It actually pushed me forward to make a further step. I listed out all the possible career plans and finally chose the USA. I never thought about what I lost from not going to university in Hong Kong, but instead, I focused on how I could act to fully utilize my limited time studying abroad. My relatives are now pleased with my current situation and they praise for my enhanced performance here.

My mother was also an excellent example to encourage me to bring hope to people in need and made them feel optimistic about their life. Being at high school, I organized a club with a few classmates. We visited students in rural villages in mainland China regularly every year to experience their life and brought them useful resources. This experience of seeing real life was immensely helpful, and I am grateful for it as it helped me mature and realize who I am. In the conversation between us and those students, we knew that most of them had heavy pressure on studying. They believed the only way they could step outside the village is to rank top in public examination and enter a good university. However, there was only a small proportion of students who were able to do that. The majority of students ran away from schools and learned bad habits like smoking, stealing, or even drug using. I realize that the focus on success can make one blind to a huge range of opportunities that life offered. These students saw no hope in their future and, therefore, gave up education. Our team grouped all students together, and we started to get to know each other more by some ice-breaking games. They were very willing to talk with us as they wanted to know more about Hong Kong, which they considered to be a fashionable place. We shared some information about our city with them and told them some common values, wishing they would quit some bad habits they possessed. At the same time, it was clear that people tend to see that the grass is greener on the other side. This is not true: the grass is green everywhere if you don’t choose to be color-blind. Back in Hong Kong, we continued to communicate through letters. We could see that they were becoming a little more enthusiastic about their future. And more importantly, they were willing to work hard for it. When we returned to the same village last year, their teachers told us that some of our friends had returned to school and were quite talented in the study. Our team was so delighted to hear the news and we wholeheartedly hope they could keep on with that.

Looking back to my eighteen years of life, I thanked my mother for passing her admirable characters and qualities on me. I will carefully keep this reference book forever in my heart, and read it to my children in the future.

Is that glass half full or half empty? “It is our own choice whether to stand on the angel side or the devil side.” Optimism is not a gift; it is a choice and an exciting task to do. Optimism means being interested in life as it is and following your path with pleasure and gratitude.

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