Describe a life-changing moment that formed the person that you are today.
I was sitting with my teammates in the Denver airport after yet another trip to Boulder, Colorado for a running camp. The week had been successful, and most of my memories made on the trip were good ones. There were, however, exceptions. At one point while we were staying in my coach’s cabin in Estes Park, I was as happy as every other kid around me. I was smiling and listening to the conversation, laughing at all the jokes told, and even pitching in my own two cents every once in awhile. Almost as soon as I felt joy, however, my heart and mind snapped into a state of confusion. Before I could try to hide from the failed joke I had just told, one of my closest friends snapped towards me and jokingly told me to “shut up.” To any other teenager, this would have been just another silly joke. For me, however, I had been living the first sixteen years of my life as an over-analyst, and consequently I blew it out of proportion. What if he really means it? What if he isn’t really my friend? The past year at my school had not been any different. After spending all of freshman year trying to find a new best friend, I thought sophomore year would give me a chance to really show who I was. I was wrong. I watched the few friends I had made the year before slowly drift away out of my grasp. At this point in my life, everything just seemed to be superficial- my friendships, my relationships, and most importantly, my faith. I knew I couldn’t feel sorry for myself-I had it way better that 99% of any other teens in the world. But something pulled at my skin and constantly nagged my heart and mind. As winter came around, I tried again to no avail. Spring came and went and soon enough it was summer. As I continued to pursue my dreams of having true and meaningful relationships with my friends and the people that loved me, I began to realize just what I wanted. I wanted an identity. Unfortunately, it never came. So as I sat in the airport and decided to be the “shy kid” for a little while, I plugged in some music to try to free myself from the emotional stress that was consuming me. I wanted to get away; I wanted to escape from the world where everybody knew me and I could just act like Ryan, not the shy kid, or the cool kid, or the athletic kid, or the smart kid. I wanted to create my own path, and have my own views on life. I never looked back. Once the first few chords struck, I knew it would be a special song. My music choice was “Colorblind”, by Counting Crows. It wasn’t necessarily the lyrics that struck me with so much emotion, but the tempo. My throat started to choke up. My heart began to beat slower and slower. And then I looked up. What I saw was thousands of people, each living in their own individual lives, and dealing with their own problems. Mothers tried to keep control of their kids, businessmen were running to catch their flights, and lovers were saying their goodbyes. I realized that everyone was looking into their own window, and not everybody was worried about me. Suddenly, I felt not small and insignificant, but relieved at the realization that I shouldn’t fret about the small details revolving around my world. Now it seemed unnecessary to worry about trying to mold into an identity that didn’t fit. I had been spending the first two years of high school trying to drive a square peg into a round role. This imaginary formula for discovering my true identity wasn’t exactly working for me and now, I was okay with it. As long as I am happy with myself, I discovered, then I could be a little bit of everything. Since this realization things have fallen into place for me. The first thing to come was my faith. I realized that embracing my faith rather than trying to force it allowed me to see God more easily in my everyday life. I soon discovered that once I have confidence in who I want to be, things just come naturally-the friends, the relationships-everything seems to work out. At school I am no longer the kid that might blow everything out of proportion. In English class, my teacher jokingly calls me a “nudge” to mock my jokes, but we share a good laugh about it after class and I know that it is all good natured. I regard that moment in the airport as a big step both in my maturity and my social life. In the past 12 months, I have become a true people person, and most importantly to me, I have taken major steps in my faith. I now know what I believe, not just believe what I’m told. I have become the people person that I always wanted to be. That moment in the Denver airport made me grow up. I took giant steps in my faith life, my relationships with people, and in my self- confidence, and I know that no matter what personality I may be trying on, I will always be happy with who I am.