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.
Most of my life, I’ve lived in a box. A comfortable box, with comfortable walls, filled with the things I love. The only problem is, I don’t like to leave my box.
I grew up with exceptional siblings who excelled in many different facets of life. My older sister was on a synchronized skating team representing the United States of America at the World Level, and my younger sister was a Senior Intern at my family’s company before she even attended high school. At a young age, I concluded that I would be the ordinary child, and contentedly abide in the shadow of my siblings.
Even though I didn’t plan on going to the Olympics or being a CEO, I still had a dream. Growing up, I always wanted to be a choreographer. I love finding the artistry and beauty in rhythm and lyrics. I used dance and figure skating as my outlets, choreographing ice show numbers and routines for my friends.
However, I kept this dream to myself. It seemed silly and unrealistic. There was no way you could just do what you love every single day. So I imagined my dream career into being a complicated feat, and my box had no room for complicated. So I lived my day to day life, in my comfortable box with my books and apples, sitting at the dinner table as my siblings’ shared their most recent accomplishments. When I would listen to them, hearing about all they have done and all they plan to do, I would think about how little I had done with my life, and wondered if I’d already missed my chance to do something worthwhile. My box started to feel a little bit smaller with each insecurity I fostered, feeling as if I was the “let down” of the family.
When I was given the opportunity to attend a boarding school in Minnesota where I could skate as a regular part of my day, I thought it must be fate - that this was the Universe’s way of helping me leave my box. However, when I got here I was constantly referred to as either Kati’s older sister or Suzi’s younger sister. I was annoyed because it felt like I had left one box only to be put into another. I wanted to be known not as someone’s sister, but for me.
Despite my frustration, I always looked forward to English class. My teacher believed that stories - all our stories - are important. I was inspired to reflect upon my life and imagine my own destiny. One day, he was talking about how we decided what type of people we would become- either those who lurked in the shadows, or those who lived amongst the stars. I recognized that the sky is infinite- so why couldn’t I join my sisters up there, in the stars? I realized that if I allowed myself to overcome my self-imposed barriers, if I left my box, something unpredictably wonderful could happen.
Slowly, my dream began to change. Now I want to become a writer and tell my own stories. One of our greatest gifts is the ability to communicate - to express love, happiness, and joy. I want to make people feel something intangible, something memorable. There’s only one of each of us, so don’t rob the world of who you are because you stay in your box. Step out, notice the life around you, and shine a light so bright, it makes the stars envious.