Senior Speeches: Julia Park ’19

October 25, 2018

Thankfully, I have friends who accept me the way I am. They give me the chance to love myself.

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.

In my life, I’ve learned to love myself.

The beauty standard for women in Korea is thin, small face, pale, and clear skin. If you are Korean or even from Asia, you might relate to this. When we take a picture, we look at how small our faces came out. Teenage girls in Korea look up to celebrities and think that they are the ideal body type. Korean celebrities may go on extreme diets to look “beautiful,” and most teenagers try to do the same.

To be honest, I got bullied in 6th grade because of the way I looked. I was a little stubby compared to my classmates. Many of the other kids treated me as if I was a monster. As a thirteen-year-old girl, I was terrified and scared.

After this experience, I thought that I had to live up to other people’s standards in order to make friends. I had to constantly be someone else; I could never be myself. I felt weird about that, but I shrugged it off because I wanted friends. I was anxious that friends I had might leave me.

When I arrived at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in freshman year, I was a little overwhelmed by the fact that most students here are athletes. Of course, they had different body types, but they were fit. Sometimes I feel that I am part of the ‘fit’ group when I feel confident with myself just because I just finished a huge task. It was more of that feeling when I feel free, and I am willing to go out and hang out with my friends.

When I started playing volleyball sophomore year, I felt I was part of an ‘athletic’ group. I was playing a sport, and when I showed good technique or made a good play, I felt part of the group. But when I put on my uniform, or even my regular clothes, I felt I didn’t belong. This may sound funny, but I really do have those thoughts.

When school, friendships, or other things do not work out, my confidence hits bottom. My thought bubble goes on and on, and finally gets to the problem of how I look. I end up concluding that the reason I’m not happy is because my shape. Yes, this does sound weird, but my thinking is complicated and I am anxious.

In contrast, when things seem to be in right place, I get really optimistic. For example, when I get a good grade in Physics, or feel excitement when I finish the huge task, I become the happiest person in the entire world. I know this sounds like my mood is constantly swinging, going up so high one time, and going down so low at another.

Thankfully, I have friends who accept me the way I am. They give me the chance to love myself.

People come and go. Not everyone likes you when you are being yourself. This might be hard as young adults, but just hold on to the people who support you. Now I have people around me who love me for who I really am. It’s helping me to start loving myself.

I just wanted to say thanks to all of my friends who made bus rides so fun, making inside jokes, and always being there for me. I try to be a trustworthy and a caring friend in return. Also thanks to my family who have given me this wonderful journey.

Haters going to hate, lovers going to love. Be yourself.

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