Community service: Alex Danilowicz at TEDxEncinitas

Translator: Katarzyna Lisowska
Reviewer: Tulio Leao As a high school student, I know that just jumping in
can be scary, but I always find it rewarding. And I know that just jumping in
isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it continues to surprise me
how few people do just jump in, especially teenagers. Today, I want to talk about
the hardest part about just jumping in. The first step. From there, it always gets easier. As Albert Einstein once said, “A ship is always safe at a the shore but that is not what it is built for.” Now, obviously, we aren’t boats.
We are human beings. But we are still built to take risks.
We are still built to succeed. Think about it. It is really only the first step
that is hard. The first step –
daring to ask a girl out on a date. The first step – applying to college. The first step – stepping on a stage. The first step really just takes
a small raindrop of courage and eventually it will precipitate
into a shower of success as soon as you get your feet wet; in no time
you will be diving into things. But here is the problem. So many people don’t take the first step. As a teenager – and I felt this way, too – I think the number one fear
is a fear of failure. As the author of the Harry Potter series,
J.K. Rowling once said, “It is impossible to live your life
without failing at something unless you live so cautiously
you might as well not have lived at all.” Naturally, we are afraid to fail,
but we learn the best from our mistakes. In middle school I played
on the basketball team. Admittedly, I am not very athletic, but nonetheless,
all of my friends were doing it. During my sixth and seventh grade seasons, I sat on the bench at every Saturday game, But finally, in my third year of playing,
my eighth-grade year, the coach finally decided
to put me in the game. I am pretty sure we were winning
by about fifty points (laughter) but, nonetheless, I still jumped in and after two minutes I had the ball It was my time to shine, to make a basket! So I do what my coach taught me. I put my arm up, eyes on the hoop. I shoot the ball. It glides majestically through the air. Time is frozen. And I miss. (Laughter) So… once I missed that ball
I realized that, although I didn’t score I was still a part of the team
and I still got to jump in. So, once my short-lived
basketball career ended, I moved on to high school and
– as a freshman – I was looking to participate
in an extracurricular activity. Obviously, I was not going
to be a part of the basketball team, but I heard an announcement over the PA for all those interested
in joining newspaper, please show up
to room 318 at lunch. So, at that lunch I found myself
sitting in this room. And at first,
I am slightly intimidated, I didn’t know if I wanted to stay because I am surrounded by
sophomores, juniors and seniors. Nonetheless,
they assigned me an article to write about the school cafeteria. A month later, here is my article
– published in the paper. I got new assignments
throughout my freshman year, and in my sophomore year, I am promoted to be
an editor of the school paper. Then, during my junior year, I am promoted to
editor-in-chief of the newspaper. And I realized that if I didn’t just jump in
as a freshman, if I didn’t go to that first meeting, I would never have
the incredible opportunities that I have as an editor-in-chief today. This summer, I got to participate at a journalism camp
at the Stanford University. I also got to shadow
a night editor at the Daily News – excuse me –
the Daily Mail newspaper in London. The day I shadowed
was the birth of the royal baby. A very big day in media! (Laughter) So, clearly, I was never meant
to play basketball, but I like to think
I am a pretty good editor. And I realized that failing at basketball turned out to be
not a big deal after all. The only real failure
would not be participating, in either. So today, I invite you
to try something new, to try something different. In fact, by coming here today, by participating in TEDx Encinitas, by giving up your time today
to listen to me and my fellow speakers, in many respects, you’ve already taken the first step. Thank you very much!

  1. I love the quote at 0:34 "A ship is always safe at the shore, but that is not what it is built for." Great speech Alex!

  2. Why the Ontario School board distroyed the
    way I look at volunteerism; and destroyed
    all respect for anyone who volunteers.

    December 15 2016 I signed up to
    finish school when I was 18. I only had 10
    credits and was capable of getting the other
    20 in a year. There was only one problem.
    The school board wouldn't give me a diploma
    before I volunteered 40 hours. When I turned
    16 I started paying rent which caused me to
    quit school cause I needed to afford food.
    When the Ontario school board told me that
    need to start working for free, I accepted
    it and started working the extra 4 hours on
    top of my 6 hour job on top of my 5 hours a
    day of school work. I just sucked it up
    exhausted for week and a half of extorted
    labor, the school board using my diploma as
    the hostage. Congrats Canada, I will never
    ever volunteer to help a community that
    forced me to work for them with zero
    compensation for a week. People have sued
    Tim Horton's for less. Before my week of
    mandated torture, I had always wanted to
    spend at least two days a week volunteering
    at a local hospital once I finished school.
    Now, I just want to work, become rich, and
    not donate a cent, to anyone. I want to
    become wealthy enough that I don't have to
    ever make a slave out of a student by using
    the food bank.

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