2nd Place High School Winner



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Tyler Yep

Grade 12


Evergreen Valley High School
When I wake up in the morning, I don't look in the mirror.

I know what I would see. The same acne-covered face and ruffled, untidy hair. The same dry mouth and tired eyes. It’s hard to look in the mirror every morning and see a zombified teenager staring back.

So I don’t bother to look. Instead, I prepare for my day with my eyes firmly shut, blocking out the world of social etiquette and expectations for the rest of my morning.

I arrive to school and drag myself to first period, realizing I have an English project to present. In front of the class, my voice comes up dry, but even while nervous I manage to put a bit of humor in my speech. I make a few amusing remarks and the class chortles with laughter. My eyes light up.

I finally finish the physics lab I worked all week on. The tutoring sessions pay off, and I receive a satisfactory grade from my teacher, who beams with pride over my steady improvement. I begin looking up. My expression softens, and the frown on my face gently disappears.

I head to Spanish after lunch and my eyes meet with the girl across the room. I wave awkwardly, and she cracks a smile that lights up the room. I find myself smiling back. We exchange glances through the rest of class, and I can only imagine the ridiculous grin on my face as I walk towards the locker room.

As our team finishes the workout, I wipe the sunscreen and sweat off my face. But before leaving, I make sure to stop to give each of my teammates a high-five. Knowing they are as tired and sore as I am, I do my best to recognize their hard work for the day.

I arrive home at last and enjoy the company of my parents over dinner. Our conservations are long and meaningful, and by the end my face is relaxed, laughing and smiling with ease.



As I fall onto my bed, I am calm and free. I replay each interaction with my friends in my mind, and ponder how successful I was in brightening up their day. I remember their faces, not my own, in my memories. My eyes close, and I doze off, dreaming of what tomorrow could bring.

I awake to the birds chirping and the sun on my face. Walking to the bathroom, I look into the mirror and see a boy with ruffled hair and an acne-covered face. But I also see a spark in his eyes, and the hint of a smile across his lips. He heads to school, realizing that beauty isn’t looking at your own face. It is looking at the faces of the people around you. Their every smile, nod, and expression reflects your actions, your acts of kindness and friendship. I don’t need a mirror to feel beautiful because, simply by spending time with my friends, I know that I am.


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