Is Money The Measure of Success? This is the question answered by Sawyer Eader, winner of this year’s Gensler Group Essay Contest and $1,000 Scholarship to the Grossmont College drone license program. Eader was chosen from 67 applicants judged on best composition based on originality, thesis statement, structure and introspection.
Congratulations to Eader, we wish you much success! Here is his winning essay:
“My mom called it camping. She did everything she could to make it feel normal, because a 9 year old shouldn’t have to think about adult problems. But I knew. As dawn broke, we prepared for our excursion. It was a quite strange haul for such a casual occasion. We put bag after bag into the old suburban, full of all our favorite clothes, and valuables. When all was said and done, there was barely enough room for us to squeeze in. Despite all the obvious abnormalities, my mom made sure it felt like a bona fide camping trip, complete with road trip songs on the drive, and the promise of s’mores upon arrival. My mom did everything she could to make it normal for me, but I could see that we were homeless.
“As we drove into the campground, in a not totally unsuccessful state of forced contentment, we cruised past the diverse array of fellow car campers in their little plots. The area consisted of a large cement clearing, with small sites for each party. It was cool and calm, engulfed in the gentle shade of the Walmart building it was nestled up against. We spent most of the day rearranging our bags, trying to make our little slice of real estate feel as homelike as a car can feel. It wasn’t a good day by any means, but it went along like any other. It wasn’t until that night that the gravity of the situation registered. That first night was cold and uncomfortable. I laid there restless, just waiting for the night to end. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, or the lack of s’mores, but for the first time, the illusion of normalcy began to fade that night. I laid there, and I began to sob quietly. My mom pulled me into her arms and told me that we’d get through this, and in her arms, I was eventually put at ease and I drifted off to sleep. I remember that first night, lying there uncertain of my future, scared of what it might bring. But that’s the curious thing about life. Whenever I look back on that night, I remember it fondly.
“What I see when I look back is a family who loves me unconditionally, who would do anything and everything in their power to improve my day to day. The truth is, after that fleeting moment of doubt, there was no sadness, no fear. I saw my parents, having nothing to show for their life’s accomplishments except for an old car and a happy family, and it was plenty.
“That first night, sitting there uncertain, I learned a fundamental truth. We had nothing of material value, but we remained rich. I understood that value is an idea, a mindset completely separate from any circumstance or monetization. That success is contentment, a job well done no matter the outcome. It is the reward nobody sees, and the only one that matters.”