I specifically remember the winter day when I was fourteen and received a brochure in the mail for the local Catholic high school, Holy Family. I gave one look at it, laughed, and threw it away. It’s amusing to me now that I didn’t give that brochure more than ten seconds of my time. Little did I know that the next weekend, I would be digging through the garbage can trying to find that brochure; and that one year after that, I would be one of the faces on it.
I was in eighth grade at the time, going to the local middle school. There wasn’t a question in my mind that I wouldn’t be attending the public high school the next year with all of my closest friends. It was a Friday night, two nights after receiving the brochure in the mail. My neighbor asked me if I wanted to go to a high school basketball game with her that night. Having just gotten into a fight with my best friend, I had no plans and accepted her offer. It was a playoff game between Holy Family and another school. I thought that since we were in eighth grade, we would have to sit behind the high school students, but I was wrong. Immediately, kids that we had never met were pulling us into their section, cheering with us, and making us feel like we were a part of everything. I have never in my life felt like I was so accepted somewhere. Surprisingly, it was the most fun night I had had in a long while. Holy Family won the game, and went on to win the state championship that year. For me, though, it wasn’t about the basketball. It was about the life changing experience that would allow me to become a better person.
The next day I got up and started looking through the trash for the brochure that I so carelessly tossed out. When I found it, I brought up the idea to my parents, who thought I was joking. They were confused with my sudden desire to change everything that I had become so accustom to in the past few years; and in addition, I wasn’t even Catholic. By the time the school year ended, though, I had successfully convinced my parents to let me go to Holy Family.
I am now entering my senior year at Holy Family Catholic High School. As I write this story, I think of all the ways that decision has changed me. I had been so used to the same friends and the same experiences for so long, that I didn’t realize there were more opportunities for me. I decided that I would take a risk and leave behind my good friends and classmates I had known for years for something completely new. That risk paid off in so many ways. Yes, I got a great education and made lifelong friends at Holy Family. What I learned the most, though, is that you cannot coast through life thinking that you aren’t going to make mistakes and that you aren’t going to have to put yourself out there. For me, it is a risk to put myself into an environment where I have to meet new people, make new memories, and learn from my own mistakes. I now know that with every risk I take, I will get a far greater reward.