Dear Coach Olszowka,
I remember joining you and the cross country team for summer workouts on the Katy Trail for the first time my freshman year. I was absolutely terrified. When you laid out the workout, I looked around and thought, “I can’t believe Coach is making us run this. I think I might die.” But you were there on your bike, coaching and
Every day we are influenced by the people around us, whether we are aware of it or not. We are influenced by the people we follow on social media, our family, and the people we choose to hang out with. Some are good. For example, We Rate Dogs is my favorite account on Twitter, they never fail to put a smile on my face with their adorable dog posts.
On the other hand, influencers can have a negative impact on our mood or character. For me, unfollowing Donald Trump on Twitter was the best decision I have made. Removing something that would only anger me every time I opened the app and replacing it with cute dog pictures has made me a happier person. Just like removing a toxic person from your life, unfollowing negative influences online are just as important.
One influencer that I look up to as a runner is Alexi Pappas. Alexi is an Olympic runner and movie producer who calls her followers “bravies.” Her uplifting online presence and unique poems inspire young girls to face their fears and go after their goals. Negative body image and eating disorders are common among many high school girl runners but are often not discussed.
Alexi Pappas handles the subject with grace and encourages her followers to be as kind to themselves as they are hard on themselves. One of my favorite Alexi Pappas quotes taped to my mirror in the bathroom that says:
“Headed to the moon,
not now, but soon.”
I often see my friends more than anyone else, so of course, they influence a big part of my life. I am constantly connected with them, whether through social media or at school. It has taken me a while to realize what makes a true friend, and who those individuals are to me, but I am grateful for the amazing friends I have now.
My brother, Evan, is another huge influence on my life. I have always looked up to him not only as a big brother but as a student and person in general. He is a role model in that he always stands up for what he believes is right. He is a leader and individual thinker, something I admire about him. I have always compared myself to Evan only because I want to be selfless, loving, and driven like he is. He has always been there to answer my questions and supports me in everything I do and I can’t thank him enough.
Influencers are everywhere, positive and negative. For me, I like to focus on the positives and I am forever thankful for the ones in my life.
This summer, I spent two weeks at an environmental studies institute through Washington University. I went into the program knowing very little about what we would learn or the people that would be there.
When we first arrived, I was surprised by the diversity of students enrolled. I became nervous to receive my room assignment. What if I had nothing in common with my roommate? What if they were from a different country and didn’t speak English very well? I have to spend the next two weeks with them.
As I carried my things to the second floor, I saw my name posted on my room door next to a girl from Los Angeles, California. I got lucky. My roommate and I bonded right away. We both had the same sense of humor and laughed about everything. We also became friends with our suitemates who were from New York and Pittsburgh.
I was having a great time with my new roommates and was looking forward to classes in the morning. In our class of 22, we had students from the west coast, the east coast, from China, France, and Egypt. I was shocked to find that almost 50% of the class were international students. For most of them, English was a second language, and at times it was hard to understand them.
I didn’t get to know the other students. I only hung out with my roommates, until our teacher announced our final project and group assignments. My roommates and I were separated and put into groups with essentially strangers. I dreaded working on the project and had no intention of actually becoming friends with my group.
We had a ten page research paper and presentation due in three days. I thought we would just get the assignment done. But when we started working on the project, I got to know my team better. One of my teammates was from Chicago, another was an immigrant from Arizona, and the other traveled all the way from China. I loved hearing about their unique lives and I learned a lot more when I listened and paid attention to them. We worked well together and finally finished the project. We celebrated with ice cream and Imo’s pizza.
Coming from a small town with little diversity, it was a shock to be put in a learning environment where everyone was from a different background. It took awhile, but eventually I listened and got to know the people that weren’t like me. We all learned from each other and became good friends. Everyone’s different experiences and backgrounds allowed us to have great discussions in class.
I wish I had stepped out of my comfort zone and gotten to know the rest of the class before the end of the program. I shouldn't have waited so long. Honestly, I don’t know how much environmental science I learned, but my summer experience taught me to appreciate commonalities before differences. This is a lesson I will take with me to college.
Top 10 Hopes and Goals for Senior Year
10. Parking in the third row again.
9. Glaring at the Sophomores who took all the front row parking spots.
8. Not getting in a car accident coming out of the parking lot.
7. Finally getting a parking spot in the front row at 6:00am cross country practice.
6. Remembering to charge my chromebook before class.
5. Attempting and successfully opening my school locker this year.
4. Avoiding awkward eye contact in the hallways.
3. Eating T-Ravs in the West Wing cafeteria every other Wednesday.
2. Getting into college so I don’t end up living in my parents basement.
Top 10 Fears for Senior Year
10. Losing every football game.
9. Getting Senioritis...
Is 7. next?
In all seriousness, I look forward to my senior year as a Blue Jay. I think many of the seniors share the same hopes and fears for our last year of high school. We are all anxious and excited, but for this blog post I chose to have a little fun David Letterman style, even though my Senioritis kicked in on part of it!
I am pretty confident to say that music plays a big part in almost everyone’s life. Music brings people together, makes them cry, laugh, dance, and sing.
For me, music is something I love and appreciate for the way it makes me feel and the people it has brought into my life. I know that is a cliché thing for me to say, but it is true! My life wouldn’t be the same without music.
I can thank my dad and brother for sparking my love for music growing up. At home, my dad would always put in a CD. From The Police to Beck, our house was always filled with music.
For Christmas one year, I got a hot pink MP3 player. On long road trips, I would listen to the same fifteen Selena Gomez songs on repeat. No shame. Then, for my birthday, my brother burned a homemade CD for me titled, “Songs to Dance to”, featuring artists Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga (we all went through this stage, don’t pretend like you didn’t).
Thankfully, my taste in music has changed overtime. In middle school, my brother showed me artists Kid Cudi, MGMT, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. We bonded over the sharing and listening of music.
Today, my brother goes to school five hours away, but we stay in touch through our interest in music. We like to compete for the best vinyl collection and whenever an artist releases a new album, we are quick to share our opinions with each other.
Music has also brought me closer with friends. Around a year ago, a friend brought me to my first concert. We got there three hours early, determined to get front row. Since then, I have been begging my parents to let me go to as many concerts as I can. I have met many new friends waiting in line at concerts, connected through our love for the same musicians.
I am still really close with one of my best friends, who lives across the state, because of our similar taste in music. It gives us something to talk about. It is something we share, even if we rarely see each other. That’s the thing about music. It gives us something to agree on and share love for when much of the media today separates us with anger.
Music has taken most of my money, but it has brought me closer with family and friends, helped me form new friends, and overall makes me a happier, more grounded person.
From one music lover to another, here’s a link to a summer playlist I made. Hope you enjoy! https://open.spotify.com/user/19clayers/playlist/5bPkLWpyYIZx17X2UqJS5x?si=lydkYf8AQBqyxSP-c4Kmew