The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Society trains our minds to focus outwardly. It conditions us to succumb to the standards it holds for individuals. Spending time obsessing over these standards fades out the colors of our personality. The incapability of meeting societal demands forces people to regress from making their presence known. High school, for most teenagers such as myself, serves as the mold that shapes our young minds, forcing us to lose our sense of self. Our stories are written upon paper, easily shred-able and disposable to society’s profound standards.
In your book, The Alchemist, you depict the flaws in this ideology. Focusing on the importance of believing in our actions, you teach us, your audience, how to live life to our own standards. Never did I realize how influential people are on the way I act and how others perceive me to be, until I read this book. In public my actions are subtle as if trying to avoid attention. Yet, when I’m alone my actions portray the outgoing person that is masked by the cautious girl whom others see. Who I am depends on the environment that surrounds me.
I saw Santiago’s journey as an example of how dramatically things can change in a short amount of time. Like senior year in high school, I realize how one decision can change your life forever. Where you go to college, what you study, or if college is even the right decision decides where your life takes you. Santiago chose to become a traveler in pursuit of his personal treasure. He had the opportunity to become a successful priest like his father, but instead chose to follow his own desires. The boldness of his decision intrigues the idea that my life is not defined by those around me.
Keeping an open mind and never forgetting the purpose of his efforts, Santiago found his personal treasure. Not only did he find his treasure, but he discovered who he was as a person. This book reams with the message of self-awareness. Regardless of my goals in life, there will be something or someone that stands in my way. Like Santiago, I realize focusing on those goals is most important. Taking the challenges and using them as lessons, I will find a greater reward when reaching my goals.
After finishing this book, my value placed on societal standards has been altered. I admire Santiago’s humbleness and insight towards life. He displayed that happiness is self-made. Someone can try to ruin my day or make it, but whether or not they are successful comes down to me. It’s my choice if that person is going to have an impact on me or not. The realization that society’s standards are irrelevant comes from Santiago’s success. Throughout the story, he was surrounded by greedy people. By keeping focused on himself and both offering and accepting aid along the way, he was able to find what he had been searching for.
Regardless of standards set by society, I now see that a successful person will be one who stands indifferent to what others think or do. The Alchemist reveals that hard work and determination will override challenging obstacles. No longer will it matter what society thinks. Our minds will be focused on what’s best for us. Our stories will be painted instead of written, this time on canvas to protect them from the harshness of society and will leave our colors bold.

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