By BLAKE JAMAR
ANALY HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN, 14
Let me tell you a story. This is a story of a sheltered, naive and probably overly optimistic boy. This boy was brought up by his parents, who wanted the best for their son and sheltered him from the many horrors of the world we live in. This boy traveled as far as he could on the short leash that his small group of relatives that were so involved in his life kept him on, and he was content with that.
Then came the time when he had to leave the small, sheltered school in which he spent most of his time. He was scared to leave the extended family that he had built at this school, and even though it was for the best, he left kicking and screaming. This is when the boy learned his first real lesson the world had to offer him.
Life is tough, but you just have to move on.
This was the first lasting scar he kept. But, as most do, he moved on. He moved to a new school, met new friends and was slowly brought out of the sheltered environment he lived in. As an academic, or as much of an academic you can be in grade school, he entered in many school-related competitions. That first year, the boy was entered into a regional spelling bee. In the middle of the competition, one competitor yelled out that his voice sounded like a girl’s. He ran back to his seat, holding in tears the boy didn’t know he had. This was the boy’s first real experience with bullying.
He began focusing on basketball, where he met one coach (or teacher, as he called himself). The coach demanded perfection in everything he did, physically, mentally and emotionally. The teacher said, “Do it with purpose!” He would not accept any work that was less than the best. The teacher prepared him for staying focused on his goals and not letting anything distract him from it.
This boy had conflicting interests, drama and sports. In the beginning, it worked out, he could balance both. However, as the infamous cliques started forming, it became harder for him. He refused to choose, though. The boy enjoyed these two sets of friends so much individually that he could not bring himself to limit it to just one. However, this did not come without its consequences. The farther he went down the middle-school track, he found the two groups growing further and further apart, leaving him stranded in the middle, not really belonging to either one. He chose the hard way and while he did receive independence, it came with, at times, isolation and loneliness.
For a while after that, the teenager was lost and just went through the motions, not really trying to make social connections or have fun. Then, a light appeared. For this young man, it came in the form of a student. The young man learned self-confidence, originality and hopefulness. This was the turning point in this boy’s life. He began to accept himself, to accept others and to just have fun. The boy achieved harmony in many of his problems, and the ones that simply couldn’t, he just let go.
Toward the end of his middle-school years, he shared bonds and memories with as many people he could, just trying to soak up the experience. He had reached his moment of placidity, which means when one is satisfied with one’s life and the things that come one’s way. Even if you have not yet reached your moment of placidity or will not reach it for a long time, realize that it does come. If you are in a hard part of your life, remember, it does get better, no matter how far away that may seem right now. From the beginning of his life, the boy learned that life is challenging. It took the boy what seemed like decades to learn to embrace the good things in life because without them we would be swallowed up by the pain he had learned so early. The boy kept his optimism throughout this story, even through the hard parts. The difficult things made the good things that much better, and so he put a smile on his face every day, even if he didn’t always feel like it.
And believe me, there were many days when he did not feel at all like putting on a happy face, whether it be because of these conflicts or others. One of my favorite quotes is “People are always saying that a person’s character is unchangeable, but mostly it’s the persona that doesn’t change, not the person, and underneath that changeless mask exists a creature who’s evolving like crazy, mutating out of control.” This, is the quote that defines everyone’s middle-school experience. We all have our mask that we put on at the beginning of each day, but we have our struggles as well, which sometimes breach the mask and show through as tears, joy, or frustration. Everyone has their struggles and everyone takes away something from them and as we move on in our lives, these are the things that should be celebrated.
That, I believe, is what graduation is all about, remembering the lessons we have learned and how we have applied them in middle school, for after all, middle school is but a test ground for the behemoth that is high school. These scenarios or tests set the mold for who we are to become in high school and beyond. We control our destiny, because we control ourselves.
So remember the boy and remember yourself because this is not just the story of a boy. This is the story of every one of the people you see here today. This is the story of all those who have been lost and needed a light in the darkness of the world. This is the story of all of the young men and women here, however far in the cycle they are. This, is the story of me.