Breathing Fresh Air

Chris - Danville, California
Entered on December 18, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, place
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I was born and raised in Danville, California. It is a small, conservative town in the East Bay Area where the income of residents averages well above one hundred thousand dollars. The great affluence of this small suburb comes with high expectations for its population, especially for teenagers. The high expectations existed within Monte Vista High School especially, where I attended my first two years of high school. On a more personal level, these kinds of expectations forced me to live a life that only made others happy; I felt as though I wasn’t encouraged to grow in a way that I wanted to. I finally moved after my sophomore year to San Ramon Valley High, the rival school that many of my good friends attended. It was there I learned to become the person I wanted to be. I believe in breathing air free of criticism, being honest with myself and acting upon instinct.

Through my high school experience, I have found that you can truly experience and learn what life has to offer you when you are honest with your actions and what you want. I learned this my junior year in the “bin”, our soccer team’s meeting place for halftime and pregame talks. My former teammate had been suspended from the team and school for smoking marijuana earlier that week. In response to what had happened, Coach Busboom told us that a true team is committed to loving each other on and off the field. He stated that when we are dishonest with our actions we separate ourselves from the unity of a team. I found this true in my own life; I was choosing to live a life based off of what others expected of me and not what I truly wanted.

In trying to create standards and expectations, the culture I live in has a tendency of being critical and judgmental. It is spurred on by the media and then soaked up by teenagers and young adults who let pop culture news feeds define beautiful. I found that when I went to Monte Vista, I was conforming into the person everyone wanted me to be. Not to say conformity is bad, but when it completely disregards personal passions and desires it can be dangerous and narrow-minded. I found that when there was room for me to grow and live how I wanted to, I was a happier person and I formed better relationships with my peers.

I remember looking back the summer after high school and seeing how far I had come in just two years. On June 16th, 2008, I would walk down the ramp at graduation feeling thankful, overwhelmed and free at last. My team had taken first place in the East Bay Athletic League for soccer, I was in charge of a leadership committee and I had been in nearly all of the performances in rallies. I did not conform to society’s expectations. I could finally breathe.