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 2017-18 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.
No one expects the unexpected. Oftentimes when people talk about unexpected events, they’re usually telling a story about a negative circumstance. But sometimes it turns out to be a good thing. It might even teach you something important.
When I was seven years old, I wanted to play hockey. My parents felt otherwise. Every time I asked, the answer was, “We don’t want the lifestyle.” In their minds, hockey was constant traveling, missing church on Sundays, disrupting family life for my parents, brother, and sister, getting home late at night, six a.m. practices to drive me to, nine p.m. practices to pick me up from, and huge expenses for travel and equipment. Hearing this as a seven-year-old, it felt like they would never let me play
But I kept asking. Every day. Finally, when I was nine years old, my parents decided to give hockey a chance. They told me later they expected me to quit since I was so far behind the other kids. They had a point. I could hardly stand up in my skates at the first practice and my grandpa said to my parents during my first hockey game, “this is not her sport.” But I was so thrilled by their unexpected decision, I was up for anything. This was one surprise that turned out to be great.
But sometimes the unexpected is a setback. Last year, I was unexpectedly checked from behind in a game. I dislocated my shoulder and tore my labrum. I hoped to strengthen my shoulder to the point where I wouldn’t need surgery, but over Thanksgiving break my shoulder popped out again. My surgeon said it would be best to get this problem fixed after the season in order to prevent further damage. This meant playing through the remainder of the season with a shoulder brace and constantly hearing a voice in my head telling me, “If you go battle in the corner, you could get hurt again.” To play through the fear, I focused on the present. Instead of dwelling on what had happened in the past or worrying about what might happen in the future, I played for the moment, one moment at a time. I told myself I would be fine until I finally believed it.
Four days after nationals, I had surgery. This meant 4-6 months of sitting out the game I love, the longest I’d been away from hockey in my life. I spent the summer in the stands watching my friends skate and compete. It was hard. Every day, my thirst to play increased, yet I wasn’t allowed to get near the ice until I’d been cleared. This was yet another unexpected turn of events, and it taught me yet another lesson: Patience. I knew I had to heal. I knew I had to delay the gratification of playing my sport and sit quietly until I was ready. I told myself the longer I waited, the better it would be, because if I came back too soon I could set myself back even more. It wasn’t easy to wait it out, but I’ve learned that sometimes the best things in life take time. While I waited, I also learned to stay positive and not get down on myself.
In my head, I once had a perfect plan for how I wanted my life to go, for both school and hockey, but things aren’t always going to go the way I want. Life doesn’t care about plans. Whether we like it or not, the unexpected happens and I need to adjust my mindset to accept that and make the most of what it gives me. Of course, we all prefer the happy surprises in life, but often it’s the unexpected challenges that teach you the most.