Redwater Senior Perspective 2022
WOW, I did it! I am a high school graduate—a REAL ADULT!
But WAIT! How did I get here so fast, and what am I supposed to do now?
To answer these two questions, we will have to look back starting on March 7, 2004—the day the world became a better place because I was born (those are my Mom's words!) to today as I sit here reflecting on my school years.
I have spent 18 years guided by my parents, teachers, and mentors, and now I am expected to adult all on my own. That is scary and maybe even a little dangerous. Thankfully, I know I still have the support of my family and former teachers. And hopefully, the lessons I have learned along the way will help me during the next steps of my life.
I have to say some of my first and best childhood memories are of being on the go—sometimes exhausted, always hungry, with a book in my hand for the car rides, but almost always having a blast. My parents signed my three siblings and me up for every club and camp they thought we might enjoy. I played baseball, football, and soccer, ran cross country, competed in track and field events, powerlifting, and was a member of Cub Scouts. I attended VBS camps, church camps, choir practices (yes, I sang in a kids' choir), AWANAs, youth group services, and I learned to play the saxophone and took guitar lessons.
The activities continued as I entered high school, but I was signing myself up now. I was in athletics, a class officer, National Honor Society, and earned a restaurant management certification. One of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Pappas, also enjoyed "encouraging" me to sign up for her opportunities. I COULD NOT tell her no when she needed me to be on a current events team or in a UIL event (even when my brain was saying, "NO, NO, NO!").
It has been a BUSY 18 years, but I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to try so many different activities and find what I enjoy. I also learned some valuable life lessons as I juggled school, athletics, extracurricular activities, family, and friends. I love the quote by Albert Einstein, "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep balance, you must keep moving." Finding balance in my life is a constant process, but a few key thoughts continue to help me stay on track and keep me motivated.
Being so busy taught me the importance of managing my time and my energy. Some days were not long enough between school, practices, family time, and sleeping. There were many times I came home after a late practice mentally and physically exhausted. I knew trying to complete homework would only lead to frustration and wasted time, so I would go to sleep. I would then wake up early the next morning, normally around 6:00 a.m., and tackle those assignments while I was rested and felt the pressure of the looming deadline. There was no extra time to get distracted cleaning my room, scrolling on my phone, or watching television. The work had to be done, and I was ready to complete it and move on with my day. I also used extra class time throughout the day to complete homework, especially if I knew I would be home late from an activity or practice. The hardest part of most assignments, especially large ones, was simply getting started. Getting started at school when I was focused helped me pick up the assignment later at home and get right back to work.
Finding my motivation has been an interesting journey and one I will continue. Fear has a way of motivating people, especially children. We do not want to get in trouble or suffer any consequences from disobeying our parents and teachers. However, as we get older, and especially as we go out in the real world as adults, we probably will not have someone "watching" over us, ready to discipline us. I feel it is extremely important to set goals and find our OWN motivation for reaching them. My motivation in high school was to get the best grades possible, hoping for scholarships. These scholarships would relieve the financial burden from my parents and give me more opportunities for my college experience.
When I was a freshman, I found out I was ranked number 7 in my class. I had not set a goal of being in the top ten. I was just working my hardest. I was excited to share the news with my parents, and they were, of course, elated and encouraged me to keep working.
During my sophomore year, COVID hit the nation, and I found myself sitting in my dark bedroom, staring at my Chromebook. It was a shock to be part of something so overwhelming. Those days in quarantine made me question my goals, motivations, and purpose. As with most people, fear crept in and caused a lot of doubts and confusion. For me, however, the fear of failing at something because I did not try my hardest is the worst kind of fear. I would rather work my hardest, putting everything I have into a goal and fail, than live with knowing I could have done more. This fear pushed me to continue to strive for my best.
Junior year, I realized there was hope for "normal" to resurface. Things I took for granted my whole life now felt like a luxury. I was able to sit in class with my friends, attend public events, and become excited about a future without inconvenient restrictions. I was ready to think about my future. As my classmates started making college visits, I realized just how close I was to needing those scholarships. I intentionally upped my game when it came to my school work.
By the beginning of my senior year, I had moved up to number five in my class. I felt relieved knowing my hard work was being recognized, but I still had a year left. I started researching colleges, did a virtual visit with the University of Texas at Austin, and was pumped thinking about the changes coming my way. So many thoughts came into my mind about the direction I wanted to go. I was not sure where I wanted to go to college or what I wanted my major to be. I was feeling the pressure from my parents' questions, and at times, it seemed like too many decisions in too little time.
My progress was slow, very slow, but I pushed. I kept moving, even though it was torture at times. I spent a lot of time thinking about my options, the pros and cons of leaving Texarkana, and my family. Toward the end of 2021, I decided to attend Texas A&M University-Texarkana and live in the dorms on campus. For my situation, this gives me the most "pros" on my list. I am close to my family and can still watch my younger brother, Jaxon, under the Friday Night Lights, but I also get to experience college and dorm life.
I am pleased to share that I finished FOURTH in my graduating class! I am also EXTREMELY thankful my best work did not make me valedictorian! I am unsure how I would have given a speech in front of all those people! Maybe that is the next fear I need to address. I also received the Presidential and Owens scholarships from Texas A&M University-Texarkana.
Thank you, Redwater, for the memories. Hello, Texas A&M-Texarkana. Go Eagles!
So, back to my original two questions: How did I get here so fast, and what am I supposed to do now? I got here so fast because I was moving and making progress by continually learning and growing. I have had a great time in all aspects of my life, and I hope my parents are proud of the man I am today. The future will hopefully be more of the same. I plan to continue improving my time (and energy) management, searching for my motivations, and striving to conquer fears of the unknown.