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.
Every day we face challenges in different aspects of our lives. How we respond to these challenges will either break us or make us stronger. We have the choice to give up or to learn from each obstacle as we keep moving forward.
One of the biggest challenges I have had to face is the fear of making mistakes. I have always been hard on myself, whether it was in the classroom or during a hockey game. I lacked confidence in myself and did not really take the time to appreciate all the things that I have accomplished. Instead, I thought about all the mistakes I had made. If I made a mistake during a hockey game, I would not be able to forget about it and move on. I would be too hard on myself and be afraid to make another mistake, which prevented me from being an effective player. Last summer I was able to meet with someone to break through this fear and gain confidence in myself. We discussed why I lacked confidence and why I was afraid of not being perfect. We talked about the mentality that it takes to be a top-level athlete. I learned three lessons that have really stuck with me and have helped me to overcome my fear. These lessons are not only for sports and school, but lessons that I will carry with me through life.
The first lesson I learned is to understand why I do what I do. Things do not always go the way that you anticipate they will go. If things become difficult and you are afraid to make a mistake, you need to remember why you are there. You need to set goals to help you work towards success and help you to always realize that this is what you want to do. When I am not playing my best hockey, I ask myself, “Why do I play this game?” I think about all the time, hard work, and preparation that I have put into playing the game I love. Remembering your larger goals and what drives you helps you overcome challenges in the moment.
The second lesson I learned is to control the controllables. You may have heard this before. There is a lot in life that you are unable to control. What you can control is your attitude, your emotions, and your work ethic. You can react positively to a challenge you face by focusing on the process and making sure you are working on the little things that you are able to control. Sometimes your emotions can cause you to become unfocused and can cause you to give up, but you can channel your emotions into excitement and take advantage of the opportunity that awaits you. Lastly you can control your work ethic. Each day you should want to be the hardest worker, no matter what you are working towards. Control the controllables and see challenges as opportunities to get better.
The third lesson I have learned is to be confident in myself no matter what I want to accomplish. Many people confuse confidence with arrogance. Confidence however is believing you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Being confident takes mental toughness. You must believe that you are prepared to face any challenge that comes your way. You have be able to fail and have the confidence in yourself to keep going and to keep working towards your goals. You are able to build confidence by taking risks and facing challenges that you did not think you would be able to overcome. Being confident allows you to face adversity head on, rather than avoiding it. Things are not always going to go your way. You may get cut from a team or fail a test, but with confidence you can come back stronger and prove people wrong.
I struggled with a fear of mistakes for years. This past summer I learned how to quickly move on from the past and focus on what is coming next. I learned that I should not be spending my life living in fear of messing up. I realize that mistakes are a part of life and that I cannot always avoid them. You can strive to limit your chances of making a mistake through hard work and preparation, but they are going to happen. I now know to use them as learning opportunities. If you are able to understand why you put yourself through struggles and mistakes, and you are able to learn how to control what is within reach, you will be able to forget about a setback and keep working to achieving your goals with confidence.
I am grateful for the opportunity I received this past summer. The American writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard once said, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually afraid you will make one.” The message I would like you all to take away from this is that mistakes are a part of life and they may create setbacks for you. How you respond and what you do after a mistake is how you will become a stronger person.