On Growing Up, Being True to Yourself, and Standing at a Crossroads

May 17, 2018
May 17, 2018

On Growing Up, Being True to Yourself, and Standing at a Crossroads

Our 8th graders get personal in more 8th grade speeches

In this week’s assembly, three more eighth graders presented their eighth grade speeches, sharing incredibly personal insights as a parting message to the school family before graduation.

by Haley Jo Sacre ’18

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved to play with her stuffed animals. Her favorite was a little brown dog. Her imagination took her to so many different places. She liked to watch rain drops run down a window, she thought the moon was following her car and the hardest thing she had to do was to go to bed. She fought to stay up one more minute as each minute had infinite possibilities. This little girl was me. I didn’t have a care in the world. But all of the sudden new responsibilities arrived on the scene. What?! I have to read a chapter and clean my room and write a speech.  The gradual loss of innocence snuck up on me. I realize now that ever since I was little, I have been scared of growing up or of becoming a grown up. Walt Disney said, “We all grow old, but we do not have to grow up.” I like his attitude.

I will find ways to hold on to my optimistic playful attitude.

When I was younger, I was scared of adult responsibilities such as buying a house, paying the bills, etc. I wanted to remain a free spirited child. I didn’t want to clean the house, make dinner, or go to work. It seemed to me that grown ups were alone a lot, and I don’t like to be alone. Most girls dream about growing up, going to college and eventually getting married. Why rush it?  We are a child for far too short a time. I am in no rush at all. I like my life right now and I will find ways to hold on to my optimistic playful attitude.  I know it’s coming but can I control it.

Hi my name is Haley Jo Sacre, and I never want to completely grow up.

To me adults do not have enough fun. All they want to do is work and take care of all their possessions. These possessions and responsibilities need constant tending and it seems that they always choose work over fun. Why can’t adults be like kids? Do they think it’s bad to have fun once in a while. I think it is perfectly fine to be the adult who is super childish.

The main reason for my fear of the future is that I think I’ll forget about how to have fun. I will just be transformed into a boring person who has a constant to-do list. Just the thought of waking up early, going to work, after which I have to rush to the grocery store to get food for dinner and then I have to pay the bills, cook the dinner, do the dishes and maybe throw in a load of laundry makes me cringe. I don’t want to do this everyday.

I have given this a lot of thought and established a plan for evolving into a fun loving adult. I’ve figured out a way to not be as worried about growing up. I need to make time to live in the moment and search out my idea of fun whether that is a hobby, an adventure, or travel.

You need to make fun a priority. Build fun into your daily life.

How do you stay a child at heart forever? Well, you need to make fun a priority. Build fun into your daily life. Just like when you were little, and you had fun everyday. Of course, fun has a different meaning as you get older. Dolls, tag and pretend in general just doesn’t seem appealing. So what should we do to have fun when we are grown up?  Well, we need to make it a goal to find new ways. Be the one who gets everyone together. Think of fun field trips or adventures for yourself and for your work mates to do. Enter athletic team events together like marathons and iron man events. Play on adult teams. Start a Movie Club and you and your friends go at least once a month. Be the one who puts adventure and fun first.  I never want to forget how to throw a party or go on an overnight trip to the beach with friends.

Why does it seem that childhood is so short and getting shorter? I think that it is due to our exposure to way too much that is going on in our world. We know way too much. With the world at our fingertips, we have seen and heard things that we don’t understand but slowly it seeps in and it makes us grow up. The other thing is that the beeping phone becomes addictive.  Checking our phones constantly keeps up out of the moment and in to the future. If you can pull up anything on your phone then why would you build a pretend world made of popsicle sticks.

Of course I realize that I will have to put my family first at times and be a responsible person in the workforce but not always.  Happy, playful adults are better workers and better parents and better at everything. I will always find a way to have fun.

I have excellent role models at home.  For example, my mom always knows how to have fun, from singing in the car, to laughing until we have tears rolling down our cheeks. My dad is also a great example of a child at heart. We always play fight, and I always win. He starts the battle with a verbal taunt, and then I move in for the attack.  We actually wrestle, laughing all the while, until Mom breaks it up with, “Okay, that’s enough. I don’t want to take a trip to the hospital.”

After writing this, I feel better about growing up. I’m not as scared as I was before.I don’t have to leave all my childlike ways behind.I can still be a child at heart. Maybe I will start a business that helps adults find a balance between work, play and children. I’ll call it Neverland.

Finding My Way
by Ian Simmonds ’18

The rocky path that I travel on has weathered after thirteen years of my life. There have been people guiding me along the way, but now I walk alone. This is my life, my choices, I need to find my way. The consequences are on me. I don’t yet know what path is right for me, at this point I just walk it. I keep walking. The hard pebbles cut into my bare feet, but I continue. I jump over rocks and leap over fallen trees. Recently, I reached a fork in the road. I have encountered many forks before, but this one feels different.  This time, I sit down and spot signs near the edge of the trails. One says, “Narrow your vision and choose one subject and become professional at it.” The other says to “Keep an open mind and stay average at everything for now.” After one year, I am still situated there. Still anxious, still a little scared, but most importantly, still sitting. Hello, my name is Ian Simmonds and I am at a crossroads.

For a few years now, I have been wondering what I should do with my life. At times, I think I would like to be an actor. Sometimes I imagine being a pilot or a diplomat. I’m just not sure.  I worry that the answer will never reveal itself.

I feel a little trapped in the expectations of others and even the expectations of myself.

I don’t want to strive too high or set my expectations too low. I don’t know what feels right for me and I feel a little trapped in the expectations of others and even the expectations of myself. Am I supposed to know what I want to do at age thirteen? I do not know. For me, this path that I travel in my head is as real as all of you sitting in front of me. I can feel the walls closing in on me, a vague panic forcing me to keep going, but I need to take a break. I reach for the sky, but I fear getting burned.  I don’t want to end up like Icarus. Flying too high and crashing into the ocean. I have always felt this pressure to be something great. I don’t know where it comes from or when it came, it just exists. I just have a desire to be something amazing. It helps at times but at other times I need to stifle it when it is out of reach. I feel it all the time. This impetus is good because I keep trying to improving and I am currently excelling at performing. However this is a balancing act when you are in school; sometimes I parcel out my effort giving more to what I love.  And sometimes this leads to perhaps lower grades here and there but this is the way or path I have chosen.

I hear all of the time that the destination does not matter; that it is the journey that counts. Is that the truth? I want to end up in a good position where I have a purpose and I am needed. I don’t want to fail and drift off into nothingness. I know that I need to work hard to get where I want to be, and I want to be proud of myself as I walk my course.  So there it is – I want both, a solid journey and a great end point.

Perhaps the journey never really ends.  The path twists and winds, grows faint and then at another point seems well traveled. We just have to take everything in, continue to grow,  be open to change and continue to live in the moment so we notice the world and what it offers.

I am on my way to becoming someone that I’m equally confused by and obsessed with, my true self.

Sometimes I wander off the path and get lost in the woods. Mistakes are made, and I don’t think that I should waste my time putting myself down for them because it will be harder to bring myself back up. Of course I need to learn from my mistakes but still stay positive, even when I am not where I want to be. I can not let the little things get me down. I am on my way to becoming someone that I’m equally confused by and obsessed with, my true self. I am selfish, impatient, thoughtful, loving, funny, playful and at times angry. I make mistakes and I’m out of control.  Who is this person? How can I can be all these things? Sometimes I think it’s the age, 13 when everything gets confusing. Fog settles in and I can’t see. In the end, as long as I am in a position where I am not sad or hurt, I will be fine.

Sometimes, I think that I am still sitting at the crossroad because of the modern world has grown so small in reality but the virtual world is too big.  I am thirteen and aware of way too much. Exposure to too many things at too young an age paralyzes you. Too many choices makes the task of choosing so difficult.

I also believe that the news changes us.  Should children hear that the ice caps are melting, that the last white rhino has died, or that 42 children were killed in Syria?  It makes me feel like what I am doing in my life seems frivolous. I sometimes ask myself, why am I doing math problems when I should be spending my time  to help fix the world. I think that we are getting addicted to accessing news and information, issues that children shouldn’t need to worry about. Having the world at one’s fingertips is not always good or can have deleterious effects. I  know that technology itself is not good or bad, but rather it is mankind’s weakness and tendency towards addiction, but in the end, too many choices makes the task of choosing so difficult.

The forest is riddled with paths, and I am lucky to have so many options, yet I cannot make up my mind.  So, that is why the wise say that it is the journey and not the destination that is important. On one hand, it seems better to be a world renowned artist rather than fry cook in a fast food restaurant, but maybe not. If the fast food employee makes the most of his or her job and artist is an unhappy narcissist, who is better off?  After writing this, I have realized that the wise man is right. I will travel well and not worry so much about the destination.

I stand at a crossroads, but now I am excited.  I will not turn left or right but create my own path.   I feel a new freedom from worry about my career. I am free to hack my way through the underbrush. I am free to make choices and to make mistakes.  I am free to focus more on the present and make the next step a good one.

Strong is the New Beautiful
by Alexa Keating ’18

Part of our education here at Grymes is just this, learning to stand in front of others’ and speak with confidence from the heart. For some, this comes naturally, but for most including me, it is a learned behavior. For some reason, which must somehow relate to our deeply buried instincts,  when I speak or perform in public, I start doing three things at once. I speak as planned, while contemplating great questions like: Do I look too short? Does my voice sound weird? Should I stand up straighter? Are my eyes open? Am I making sense? I am happy to report that at this very moment, the questions are fewer and worry has taken a back seat to confidence and a new outlook about who I am in relation to you.

Good morning.  I am Alexa Keating and I am almost, not quite, but almost comfortable up here after eight declamation day performances, ten plays, and countless other times that I have stood in front of people to speak at Grymes.

You must know I’m trusting you with the nearly most vulnerable part of me.

When I first met all of you, I had little confidence. I was worried about every single thing about myself and what you would think of me. Gradually, as I became more comfortable around you, I saw a chink in my wall begin to form. My goofy personality slowly crept out of the shadows to greet you. Whether I break into song in front of you or dance around while walking somewhere, you must know I’m trusting you with the nearly most vulnerable part of me. If you gawk, we probably have grown distant. However, if you join in on my weirdness, that’s the golden ticket. I will slowly begin to take my wall down brick by brick to let you in. Very few people have no more bricks in front of them.  With maturity, my wall has crumbled, I can count the bricks on one hand that are left. Growing up in a small community has its benefits, one being, we grow comfortable around each other. My classmates have seen it all: the tears, uncontrollable giggles, my amazing dancing and singing skills, and my silence

Why do we worry about what others think of us? The truth is I don’t know the answer to this. I used to criticize myself and not anyone else. When I was eight, I hadn’t gotten braces yet and my teeth just kept getting worse. I remember looking in the mirror and deciding I wasn’t pretty.  Until I got braces, I decided not to smile in pictures or laugh with my mouth open.

Worry has been a starting player on my field of life.

As you see, worry has been a starting player on my field of life, but luckily, I have grown tired of it.  Why should I let worry eat up time that I could be spending being happy. So I pose this question… When do we become aware of  judgment? For me, it was around fifth grade. Some people I knew were being brutally honest and they’d tell me things about myself that I hadn’t realized.  Firstly, they thought that my hair was really too long, and should be cut. Second, I was the only one still taking dance lessons, and third my peers thought it was time that I play a sport for Grymes. All of a sudden, all I wanted in the whole world was to fit in. Half way through seventh grade, I started comparing myself to others. Everyone I saw I thought, “Am I as big as they?” “Am I as pretty as she?” I still worry about some things, and I want to completely stop.

What happens when girls become aware of boys’ attention?  Does she change? Should she? Research reveals that many girls do change, but why?  I think once we start adjusting for others, we forget who we really are. Learn to like you, don’t change!  I will not change. We, as women and men, have to learn to be ourselves and if people like us in our truth – then great… if not, that’s no fault of ours!  We shouldn’t worry about what others think. Therefore, let’s no longer be chameleons, constantly changing for the people we are around and be true to ourselves.

“Strong” is the new beauty. Our appearance should no longer define us!

The concept of beauty is changing.  “Strong” is the new beauty… our appearance should no longer define us! There are books about it everywhere! Society is leaning away from judging people on their looks and focusing more on their strengths and personal qualities. In my eyes, this is exciting! How often do we see people in magazines that are not necessarily society’s definition of pretty, but they are incredibly intelligent, hilarious, and kind? Not so often, but it seems as if this is about to change. Lindsay Vonn has recently written a book entitled Strong Is the New Beautiful. In her book she says, “But now I was in a realm where being skinny seemed to matter more than being healthy– and certainly more than being fit. I started to question myself. As I stared at my body in the mirror, I thought: Should I not wear this dress? Do I need to lose weight if I want to stay socially relevant as an athlete?” Unfortunately, the insecurities continued to burden her into the next skiing season. It began to affect her training and performance. She no longer pushed herself as hard when she was training and she ended up losing the World Championship title by a mere three points. My point in telling you all this is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to change how you look due to how societal pressure. We are bombarded in the media with models who are too thin and too tall and too perfect.  Let’s make a new definition for the idea of “perfect.” Henceforth the new perfect will be measured according to your deeds. Be confident in who you are and do not falter. You are what you do, not what you look like… To quote R J Palacio, who wrote the book Wonder: “ Your deeds are your monuments.”

Historically in the United States, a women’s status was determined by men.   We were told to speak quietly, laugh softly, and not to overshadow men with our loud and crazy personalities.  This has changed but I think there are still some who believe that. Who are they to tell us who to be and how to act? If you are naturally shy, that’s fine. If you are naturally a very open person, that’s fine too. My point is: do not let people tell you who to be. You are you and people will either accept that or they won’t. Don’t ever think less of yourself or change because someone doesn’t approve of you. You were not made to be someone else, you were made to be you. One of my favorite quotes is one from The Greatest Showman. The actors sing, “I am marching to the beat I drum.” So today, and every other day, I encourage you to join me on the journey to be exactly who we are including all of our quirks and virtues.