Both of my parents were raised in very humble circumstances. They both grew up in small towns, and in large families. My mother was the middle child of eight, and my father the oldest of six. However, my parents were able to go to college, discover their passions, and support themselves on their own. Now, they have been happily married for twenty-four years and are the most hard-working and loving people I know.
These two people have been my biggest role models and supporters for all fifteen years of my life. I am so blessed and thankful for my mom and dad, and I could never repay them for everything they have done for me. Our family is catholic, and I have been catholic since I was two weeks old. I am also an only child, so I have never experienced growing up in my family with someone else besides my parents. I could not be more grateful for my circumstances, and I understand that not everyone is blessed with a great childhood. However, mine has affected me in ways I never understood until now.
Up until last year, I went to a very small private catholic school for eight years. Being in such a small school, it was almost like a separate community, shut off from the outside world, constantly surrounded by the same twenty classmates and their families. I loved the small, close-knit group of friends that I had, but now that I am in high school, I realize that this was not realistic.
Everyone reaches a point in their life where they have to figure out who they are as an individual, separate from their family and community in which they were raised. This might be the hardest information that I have ever had to swallow. I had been completely surrounded by such an amazing and loving community, that I forgot who I am without them.
Being an individual is what America is all about. When you think about it, there really is not a stereotypical “American”. This is because, in our country, we have the freedom and the right to become whoever we want. No two Americans are identical, because we all have our differences, our flaws, what makes us human. Now, I may think that it is a burden to have to decide who I am, but really it is a blessing, being able to be my own person, regardless of where I came from or who raised me.
If I look back on my life with this new knowledge, I also realize that I have never understood my passion. My desires. What gets my heart racing. And I’m still not sure I know now. Throughout my childhood, I have tried multiple sports: karate, volleyball, basketball, figure skating, you name it. But not a single one kept me interested. Honestly, just thinking about this is terrifying. If I cannot discover what I love, how am I supposed to love my life as an adult?
In America, passion is what fuels everyone. Our country is so determined, driven, and hard-working. It is all about climbing to the top of society, and being the best at what you do. This is what is beautiful about America. Our nation has unlimited opportunities to achieve your wildest dreams. It’s not that we have to do what we love, it’s that we have the privilege to do what we love!
These open opportunities are the reason I am here today. My parents were able to do what they love and be whoever they wanted to become. And thankfully, when I finally figure it out, I will be able to do the same.