Each year, seniors and postgraduates 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.
Before the year 2017, I used to be a normal spoiled child who loved his own comfort zone. I didn’t think outside of my small box. I spent my days listening to my mother, going to school, chilling with my brother Ali, and annoying my two little sisters. At that time, I was a child, a boy. But, as we know, there is an end for everything.
After graduating from high school, I had to do one year of mandatory military service, which back home we call national service. I still remember the day that I left my home to go to the military camp. While I was holding my bags and heading towards the bus, my father looked deeply into my eyes and said, “Finally you will become a man.” At the beginning, I didn’t understand what he meant by that, and I felt offended. But, a year later, I totally understood what he meant.
First, I want to share with you guys what happened during my military service. I faced many difficulties because of my weight and my being too trusting of people. The intense workouts that we had to do on a daily basis were killing me because I was overweight. Over the course of that year, I would lose more than fifty pounds. Having exhausting exercises, on top of being in a new place with brand new people, was incredibly difficult for me.
No one can go through all of that mentally without friends to have their back. So I made a lot of friends fast and trusted them even faster, but unfortunately few of them deserved that trust. Many of these fake friends threw baby powder and urine at me while I was sleeping, and messed with me in a lot of other horrible ways. This showed me that a trustworthy person should be consistent and compassionate, not careless and flakey. I finally figured out who to trust and how to trust the right people.
The military taught me many other things too, like responsibility, courage, and how to lie. No one ever can survive without lying in the national service. If you are truthful, you have to participate in every practice or mission. But if you lie once in a while, like saying you have an important wedding to attend when you don’t, you can spend more time with your family or at least have some more free time.
And from the tough practices and the hard situations that they put us in, I learned what courage means. For example, I had to jump in the water to go after my friend because of a difficult circumstance during a mission. However, the most important thing that my time serving my country taught me was responsibility. The trainers gave us a rifle to take care of for the whole year, and if something happened to it, we would be in big HUGE trouble. At the end of the year, right before turning the rifle in, we had to clean it, which took me more than 10 hours. I turned it in around 3am, and I was deadly exhausted and extremely happy. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and it prepared me a lot for being an adult.
From all of those difficult times that year, my little comfort zone was broken, and I turned from a boy into a man. This is the process of maturing. After serving my country in the military and learning so much, I finally understood my father’s last words to me before I left, and I realized they were nothing to be offended by. Going from a boy to a man is not a matter of age. It depends on your personality and maturity.
However, I still joke with people and goof around, but I know when it’s time for fun and when it’s time to be serious. And the most important thing of all, is that I still mess with my two little sisters.