Checkmate. I lost my first chess tournament in four moves, granted it was against a college sophomore when I was six years old. Even at a young age I took pride in being challenged, from competing in a chest tournament against college students to being a grade ahead in school to playing up a year in club soccer.
I went to Milwaukee French Immersion; by fifth grade I could nearly speak French fluently. For a class field trip, we traveled to France. The Muslim family housing me was not happy with the situation in Iraq, and even at ten I could sense the animosity toward the United States. This experience opened my eyes to the rest of the world and taught me social skills that prepared me for the next years of my life.
“Max, come into the living room,” said my mom and dad, “We’re moving again.”
I thought I had found my niche. I had a group of close friends, dreams of high school and even college with them. This would be my fourth school in four years; another time, I would have to start over except this time it would be two months into the school year. I went from a class of 20 students at a charter school to a class of 110; making friends was not difficult but academically I was challenged. Even though I was embarrassed, I came in early and stayed late in order to get caught up. Going from school being easy and not needing to study to putting in time with teachers before and after school was difficult for me, but I was able to adjust quickly and was prepared for my next challenge.
Now to my fifth school in five years, with nearly 600 students in my grade, it was easy to get caught up with all the social aspects of high school and forget about studying. Once again I am challenged; except this time, the quantity of challenges at once was overwhelming: making new friends, losing old habits, and adapting to new teaching styles. The teachers expect you to be mature, cut out the occasional nefarious, juvenile pranks, and study nightly. More adjustments were made and I went from being the class clown to participating more in class opposed to trying to impress my peers.
I have been driven to succeed my entire life. And like many others I was faced with obstacles. Obstacles that needed to be overcome, whether it be my shyness to meeting new people, passing up going out in order to study, or changing old habits. Looking back, I can see how much I have matured, and I have learned that my ability to succeed was not a set of coincidences. It roots back to when I was young; that drive, that urge, that necessity to fulfill my dreams.