By Ryan Samway, ’20
High school is a time of unprecedented growth, change, and development. Our experiences throughout this time accumulate to build the foundation for the people we are going to be. As we progress through these four years, we learn who we are, where our interests lie, and what we want to do with the time we are given. We change, we grow, we make mistakes, we learn, and we repeat the whole cycle. We walk into high school with an idea in our head of how the next four years are going to play out, and that idea gets shifted, altered, transformed, and eventually produces a graduating student who has found some sense of purpose and direction. In my case, as a senior who is getting closer and closer to leaving everything I know and love, I feel like a completely different person from the freshman who walked into San Domenico three short years ago.
As I started to reflect back on my years of high school, there was nothing I wanted more than a time machine to change so many aspects of my high school path. I look at the school and community that I am in now, and I want to scream at fourteen year old Ryan to take advantage of the amazing opportunities around her, to be less afraid of not following the status quo. It frustrates me indefinitely that I didn’t branch out or push myself as much as I could have. I wish I could somehow tell my past self exactly what to do, and what not to do.
And yet, I would be lying if I said I wish I could rewrite the past. As cliche as it sounds, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without all the days and experiences that led me here, both the good and, maybe more influentially, the bad.
Still, even if I wouldn’t change the whole experience, there are things I feel would have benefitted me to hear as an underclassman (although my stubborn self probably still wouldn’t have listened). So, for all you freshman out there who see high school as one endless path to college, here are some words of advice:
- Be bold. Don’t be afraid to do something because it might not work out or because your friends aren’t doing it. Conversely, don’t just do something because it’s what the people around you are doing. This can apply to a wide range of high school experiences. Whether it means speaking up in class to voice your beliefs, or trying out for a new sport you’ve never done before, I guarantee you will never regret being bold. Coming into SD as a freshman, my mind was set: I wasn’t going to play sports in high school. I wasn’t good at any sports, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to embarrass myself by trying. I had this mindset until sophomore year, when I played on San Domenico’s first ever lacrosse team. I jumped in blindly, without even the slightest understanding of how the game worked. By pushing myself to try something I had never done before, and allowing myself to have the opportunity to struggle with something, and learn from it, I found the motivation to work harder and improve. Ultimately, I found something I really loved, and still love today, but not without allowing myself to be bold enough to fail.
- Take the time to learn about yourself. Education, high school in particular, is so much more than just an end goal – it can’t just be all about getting into college, or “succeeding” by checking all the boxes and fulfilling requirements. Take the time to reflect and see the “why” behind the decisions that you make. Find where your interests lie, and be proactive about pursuing your passions. Most opportunities aren’t going to just fall straight into your lap; you have to seek them out. As you grow as a student, peer, and more importantly, a person, motivate yourself to identify what in your life brings you joy, and work to actively bring more of whatever it is into your day to day life.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and listen to the advice of others. As much as it feels like you know what’s best for you in all aspects of your life (trust me, I’ve been there), chances are you’re surrounded by people that know what they’re talking about. Parents, teachers, college counselors, and friends are ultimately trying to help you achieve the best version of yourself, and they can be precious resources for you if you let them. It’s often hard to admit that you are lost or need direction, but if you can be brave enough to acknowledge that you can’t get through high school without the support of others, you are already headed in the right direction.
So, if you’re just starting your high school journey, learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Try things, fail, pick yourself up, learn and try again. Do things that are hard, things where you’ll encounter resistance. For it is this resistance which will ultimately allow you to grow.
About the Author
My name is Ryan Samway, and I am a senior here at San Domenico. I am very passionate about writing, and am excited to share all of our voices in The Panther Post. I also love science, and I am pursuing my dream of working in medicine and being a doctor. Outside of school, my interests include lacrosse, running, dancing, and surfing. Most importantly, my goal with this newspaper is to help build a platform for our San Domenico students to share their thoughts and tell their stories, and support and expand our students’ voices.