Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.
Throughout the 2018-19 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.
I am a worrier. I chew my cheeks and fidget with my pencils and big pink eraser. Instead of thinking about the best thing that might happen, I think of the worst possible outcome. Once I start to worry about something, it is hard to get it out of my head. Most of the time, I worry about school due to the pressure I put on myself to succeed. I am constantly nervous as I think of the school work to come while stewing over the work I’ve just done. In order to smother and calm my worry, I study. Through my excessive studying, I reassure myself that I most likely will not fail. In the end, I do get great grades, but I often miss out on life.
For example, because I came here for the academics, I work and work on homework instead of looking at what is beyond my computer screen, text book, or notes. Over the years, I have started to dread coming to school and the studying I feel the need to do, instead of feeling excitement for what I might do for fun. I have excluded myself from enjoyable times such as sporting events, plays, concerts or simply hanging out in the dorm with friends.
Fortunately, I’ve started to recognize my despair. I have decided to find balance between the pressure of school and the more enjoyable parts of life. I have realized I need to be confident that I know the material I am learning well enough to stop studying at a certain point and become more involved with my friends. After this epiphany, I began to wonder exactly how I was going to do that.
Well, I concluded that if I had made excuses to study all the time before, then I could find excuses to take a break for a few hours now. Last winter, after some hesitation, I settled on joining the basketball team. Although I did not know the first thing about basketball, I was reassured about my new decision when the coaches told me that no experience was needed. I learned this was true when I came to the first practice and we all were taught how to shoot a basket. Over the course of the season, our progress was slow. I have fond memories of chaotic chucks to each other when none of us knew what to do with the basketball, and our team didn’t score more than twenty points until our last game. However, I would not have it any other way. I smile and laugh at the embarrassing memories and look forward to this winter.
Taking a break from my studies helped me relax and remember that everything was going to be alright. I was able to ease my worry and believe that I could not only survive the academic challenges at Shattuck, but also live and absorb every moment to the fullest. In some way, we all put a great deal of pressure on ourselves while expecting the best. We can be stressed and worry about what is to come but we have to to step back, “smell the roses”, and remember to enjoy the special moments we are in.