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.
Throughout my four years at Shattuck, I have made many memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life, but among those soon to be campfire stories, there is one that sticks out in a unique way.
It was the first week of junior year, and I was in 2nd period AP Language and Composition taught by Mrs. Stafford. She had just assigned questions over the summer reading, due the next day to be read aloud in class. On the list of questions, was one pertaining to what people want to do with their lives, specifically, what I want to do with mine. My first thought, thank god, she gave us easy homework because I was already behind, so I put the blank sheet away telling myself I would do it quickly in the morning. However, as I laid in bed that night, I couldn’t help but think about that question before I fell asleep. I had been asked it so many times, and almost every other time it was in person, and my responses usually consisted of confused ramblings and uncertain statements with the hopes of ducking a follow-up question, but this time I really thought about it. Sadly, my conclusion after some time was the same as before, no idea.
The next morning was greeted with the ear-piercing sound of my phone alarm, again, welcoming me back to the Shattuck sleep schedule. Like always, I was running a few minutes late so that homework I saved for the morning would have to wait, and before I knew it, I was sitting in AP Lang, and Mrs. Stafford had already started class. She had us take out the previous days homework and instructed for all of us to go around and share our answers.
Normally, not doing a simple homework assignment wouldn’t bother me much, but being that it was the first week of junior year, and my first AP class ever, let’s just say I wanted to get through the period without Mrs. Stafford noticing. As each kid went down the line and shared, I was busy filling out the rest of the assignment only taking breaks to quickly answer questions. It wasn’t until I heard Mrs. Stafford’s stern voice utter my name that I looked up to find a classroom of eyes focused on me, awaiting a response. To what question you ask, what do you want to be when you’re older.
After a moment of silence and without thinking, a one-word response fell out of my mouth.
By the look on Mrs. Stafford’s face, I could tell she was not expecting that type of answer, that’s when it registered with me that I had just responded to a question about my future profession with a type of emotion. After a quick conversation about my response, Mrs. Stafford directed the class’ attention back to the activity and the day went on, physically at least, mentally I was stuck in that moment.
All my life, I thought about what I wanted to be regarding what kind of profession I wanted, or how much money I wanted to make, always concerned about the materialistic aspects of life. I was convinced that there is a particular formula for happiness and if you get it wrong, good luck. However, that small interaction in class changed this forever. I came to the realization that I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, and that’s okay, because what I do know is that I want to be truly happy, and wherever that takes me is where I belong. Now to leave you with a quote: “ I’m not in the pursuit of happiness, I’m happiness in pursuit.” - Bernard K. Clive.