An experience worth fighting for

When I was 14 years old, just before high school started, I moved to a new neighborhood: my teenage self’s worst nightmare. My little freshman self probably wouldn’t believe me if I told her that I’ve loved every moment at New Trier.

I’ve realized that the fear and uncertainty I felt initially are only natural for any transition in life, whether you move somewhere or just transitioning to high school. Nothing we experience in life will ever be perfect. In fact, I even decided to write a graduation speech to thank NT and everyone I have met along the way.

Even though I didn’t get the opportunity to be the commencement speaker for the class, it felt great to audition. I’m lucky enough to have a voice in the school newspaper to express my gratitude.

Anyway, this experience wasn’t easy, but I think I was able to manage this uncertainty by recognizing how important it was to enjoy the mystery of life. It helped me maintain a positive attitude in difficult times, and led to friendships with other students, teachers, and faculty.

Some of my best friends tease me about how I always smile and say “hi” to everyone. Life is so beautiful, and when I step back to appreciate it, I can’t help but smile. My law and justice teacher once told our class he gives love to all his classes, and this, the importance of telling people we love and appreciate them, really meant a lot to me.

The endless cheering and encouragement my cross country coaches and teammates have given me, despite the fact that I finished last in almost every race.
It was never something I expected to experience when moving, but it made me feel like I belonged.

That’s the biggest struggle we’ll all face: how to lift up the world we live in. We have to remember the struggles and complexity people face around the world.
Thanks to my Lit Film class, watching movies is one of my hobbies. One of my favorite movies is “Scent of a Woman” which has a scene where a young student, Charlie, prevents a crotchety, retired veteran, Frank, from taking his own life. He repeats the advice that Frank had once given him earlier in the movie, saying “If you get all tangled up, just tango on.”

Sometimes, we make mistakes. We feel scared and uncertain. We don’t know where to go in life. All we have is our ability to tango on and hope for the best. There’s always a solution and you are never ever alone. And as I look back on how far I have come, every day, I am full of gratitude and hope for the future. I can truly say with a full heart that I can’t imagine not moving.

I’m 17 now, and while I don’t know everything, the four years since freshman year have taught me a few things: we have to do our best to see the humanity in others. It’s okay to show emotion and express how we feel. It’s okay to be uncertain of our future. Sometimes we have to let go of our worry and fill that void with awe for the mystery of the world around us. We have to latch onto appreciation for the little gestures from the people around us and I believe that’s what life is all about. Finding happiness in the little fragments of everyday life.

Every day I wake up knowing how privileged I am to be alive. I am surrounded by family and friends who support me and to be surrounded by a school environment who allows me to reach for my dreams is an absolute privilege. To be given every opportunity to succeed is something I will never take for granted.