I have always considered myself a person of faith. I was lucky enough to be born a Sephardic Jew in one of the most welcoming periods in world history. Because of this, I never had to hide my beliefs, I had the opportunity to inform countless masses of friends what the laws of Kosher are, sharing stories about my main man Moses, and having a global network of strangers and friends alike that I could rely on, that I could confide in. But that’s not what I wanted to highlight today. Recently, I went to Yom Kippur services for the “Jewish New Year” where I fasted the whole day and prayed in repentance of the misdeeds committed by me and fellow Jews this last year. At the end of the second night, after nearly 30 hours without food, water, or bathing, as night falls, your fate for the next year is sealed, your past year is wiped clean and are given a chance to start anew. As I left services with my father, I felt invigorated, I felt fresh, I felt strong despite my thirst and hunger, and it was all due to this faith of mine. I realized I possessed a luxury that many of my friends grew up without and still live lacking.
My faith has always been something I could rely on. From a young age, when I questioned something, I found my faith would always give me a confident answer, giving me a sense of closure, a peace-of-mind not afforded to my peers. When my friends grew to understand the finality of their mortality, when they struggled to find meaning in their lives, when they tossed and turned trying to comprehend our loneliness in our vast expanse of the universe, I had Judaism to fill the gaps in my young mind, sheltering me from the despair. Now I’m not saying it by any means encourages ignorance, some of the best Jewish scholars throughout history have integrated the scientific understand of our universe and Judaism because “[Both] were understood to be two different manifestations of the same divine truth.” (MJL, 2007) I was always encouraged by numerous Rabbi and teachers from my Jewish primary school to find my own truths, but if I couldn’t find a why for any of these, an explanation for my truths, Judaism would always be there to support my conclusions, to give me confidence about my role in our universe, no matter how small. I can go to sleep every night knowing if I were to not wake up in the morning, it would be because I have served my purpose and my job is completed, for this I am incredibly grateful.
I once saw myself to be a bystander in no one else’s story. I was there, obsolete, silent, watching the world unfold around me, witnessing what my peers were experiencing, but not having any of that for myself. I was tired of being a supporting role in my own life, adding to other people’s conversations, assisting people when they might need it, but never bringing anything to the table myself.
I didn’t feel like I had any identity as an individual, I relied on the people around me to define who I was and I hated it, I couldn’t stand the fact that when I was alone, I knew nothing about myself that was uniquely mine, that I had created a version of my self that was only a convoluted mosaic of the people I associated myself with.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t entirely a unique individual. That although I had a mixture of physical traits that made me intriguing, I didn’t have the personality that supported that. I realized it was fine to inherit these traits from those around you but to keep an eye on what those are.
I found myself adopting unhealthy mentalities that I drew from those I looked up to, these forced me to reflect heavily upon what I had become, I was no longer true to myself, I became a canvas upon which my peers could splash their negativity, and I would mindlessly carry it around, displaying it for everyone to see.
It took me a long time to rid myself of the bad habits I had accumulated. I was alright with adopting traits from other people that I respected, I realized that that process is fundamental to our growth as individuals and not detrimental to it as I had originally thought. I realized instead that the issue I had was that I was adopting traits that I didn’t like in an attempt to somehow further my personal development without considering the fallout of these actions.
To some degree, everyone 25 and younger is an IT expert. When the WiFi stops working, it is usually the duty of the youngest member available to fix it. You just switch the button on and off and Lo! you are beheld as a technological deity, as the internet now works perfectly. Your family praises you, and you become the go to person every time something technology related goes wrong. But we know the truth. Those of us who have experienced this phenomenon know, buried deep inside of our consciences, that we in fact know very little about technology. I have fallen victim many a time to this, especially when I slightly adjust the HDMI cable for Ms. Wilson. But my technological skills (or lack thereof) finally met their match. The portal into the WordPress site was a treacherous one. A cyclical loop of “Error 404” and “Please have the moderator re-invite you.” But then it appeared. Suddenly and out of nowhere. A big button that said “Start writing.” This, this was my salvation. And so yeah basically here I am. I figured it out. Easy peasy. Yep.
I’ve started this draft several times. I’ve written sentences and sentences only to change them, revise them, and, eventually, just completely eradicate them and end where I started: with nothing. Because every time I try to write about this, I can’t formulate the right words to say. Even though I’ve discovered at OVS that one of my biggest passions is writing, I’m speechless when I try to write about what these last four years meant to me.
When I came to OVS for the first time, I was an awkward freshman. I had no friends, no idea what I was doing, and no idea who I was or who I wanted to be.
The four years to follow threw me in for a loop of highs and lows in self development, friendships, and life. Now I have just a couple days until the craziest, most amazing four years of my life come to an end. Every year at this time, I had a strong desire for the days to end as quickly as possible so I could enjoy my summer break. This time, I’m scared for the inevitable last day of school to come. I’m holding on to every last second I can.
I’ve been to three graduations here. Every single one making me sadder than the rest, but there was always happiness in my heart when I’d hug my friends goodbye for the summer, especially because I knew I’d see them again. On May 31st, I’ll hug all my friends, but, when fall rolls around, I won’t see them again on the hill that’s been my second home for the past four years. We’ll all be scattered across the country taking on different cities and pursuing different passions. We won’t see each other at breakfast every morning or at the barn at the end of every day. We’ll see each other through FaceTime calls and at reunions during our holiday breaks. I’m bound to cry at graduation because of it all.
I’m happy we’re all going to colleges we want to go to and I know that these friends are the ones I’ll have for life. But the realization that this is our last week as high schoolers together is still sending a wave of shock over me that I’ve been drowning in the past couple weeks.
I’m horrified for what the future holds, but, at the same time, I feel so ready. Four years ago, I wasn’t sure if I would ever be ready for college and eight years ago I didn’t have any faith that I would even be going to college. Now, I’m excited to walk into the unknown and I have OVS to thank for it all:
For being a school that’s given me the opportunity to branch out and try everything I could ever want to try. I didn’t have to stick to one niche. I got to be a risk-taking athlete, an unfiltered writer, a confident leader, and everything in between.
The equestrian program for giving me a horse I love more than myself. For giving me a place I’ve made my best friends.
The camping trips where I went running through the Yosemite forests at night time with no flashlight and rode the bull of the raft while river rafting on the Kern trip. For making me push my limits and having them turn out to be the most rewarding moments of my life. For making me realize I love camping even though I hate going days without showering.
For my AP Spanish class making me fall in love with the language all over again and decide to study abroad in Spain instead of France. Law/Gov class that furthered my excitement to move to D.C. to study politics and intern on Capitol Hill. Especially for my journalism class that provided a source of gossip, a place to rant, and an endless supply of snacks, but more importantly, it has given me an outlet to explore writing and inspire me to pursue it in college.
Thank you for everything. For the good, the bad, and everything in between. No words could say it all.
I’m not gonna lie and say this school is perfect. There’s so much I’ve complained about and so many things I would change. But if I’m going to be honest, it was perfect for me. It was the place I needed for the kind of person I was to become who I am today. I had no idea what my purpose was or what my passions were and, while I’m still on a road of self-discovery, OVS put me on the right path.
it’s a sad kind of happy when i’m with you. i love being around you, you make me smile and laugh. you make me happy.
in all honesty, i think i love you. i really think i do.
we’re friends, we talk, we hang out sometimes. i like that.
sometimes you confuse me, though. sometimes i’ll think you feel the same way about me, but then you’ll ignore me the next day.
in all honesty, you’re confusing, so confusing.
but, that’s part of who you are.
i try to understand you, because there’s so much to understand. you’re talented in so many things, but you doubt yourself. you are loved by so many people, but you deny it. you say no one likes you, but you know that i’m here.
i’m here sitting by you right now. you’re looking out the window. we’re listening to music on your phone. i have the left ear bud, you have the right.
i’m happy right now, i’m with you, but it’s a sad kind of happy
we’re listening to love songs. sometimes, i pretend that the songs are a message. i pretend the songs are you telling me you love me…. but we both know that’s not true.