My advice to you: How to turn hardships into blessings

Sean+Raines
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My advice to you: How to turn hardships into blessings

Sean Raines

Sean Raines

Sean Raines

Sean Raines

Sean Raines, Online Editor

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Typically, when you watch movies about high school, the film stages a plot where the main protagonist is set up to receive all he or she has asked for whether that be a full ride athletic scholarship, an admittance to his or her dream school, or just a happy ending with his or her friends or significant other. Unfortunately, this is not one of those stories.

As a rising freshman, I was not even sure if I was going to attend West Forsyth. I came from a close friend group at Calvary Day School with a passion for baseball that I feared would possibly end my career if I attended a school as athletically gifted as West. Other schools of interest included remaining at Calvary or other high schools around Forsyth County. With motivation from my older brother who encouraged me to attend the school out of our enjoyment of being around one another, I decided to come to West.

My freshman year I learned a lot. I learned how to create friendships quickly as the new kid who didn’t really know anyone besides the sophomores and my brother’s friends, being that I reclassified and repeated the eighth grade. I had one main friend group that carried over for most of freshman year along with gaining other friends on the side. However, once baseball season came around, I thought I was ready to take the field as a Titan. Unfortunately, I was unable to make the team as a freshman, getting cut on the final cut day. I was devastated. In fact, I was pushing towards transferring to a school where I could play ball, but my dad had a talk with me because I was thriving academically and doing well socially. During this conversation my dad mentioned taking up something new like lacrosse. At the time I was skeptical, but I decided to push through at West and contacted coach David Atkins, the JV coach at the time, who talked with varsity coach Brendan Beatty, who graciously took me in. At this moment I dealt with failure in high school for the first time. I was devastated after not making the baseball team and looked over the cut list at least three times with a lot of thinking before facing reality. It just so happens that this reality was in the works of God as I continued to play lacrosse for the next three seasons. This experience was the first time I had to adjust to change. It made me learn that you can’t just take the easy way out; furthermore, you have to learn how to adjust to the circumstances given to you and keep pushing through. So, whether it be a sports team, academic team, hard time making friends or anything, my advice is to keep on course and open up your mind to new opportunities that may come from the conflict that has risen from your situation. You never know how great that opportunity that you were unsure about may be until you try it.

Fast forward a little bit. The rest of my freshman year and sophomore year went pretty smoothly as I achieved academic and athletic success in the classroom and on the lacrosse field. As a team captain of the JV team my sophomore year, I got pulled up to varsity for playoffs as a reflection of how I played. I created new friendships on the field over my underclassman years and rekindled old friendships that I would probably not have if I did not decide to play. These next two years on the other hand have been two of the hardest years I’ve ever had in my life. On the field my junior year, I dealt with a lot of adversity. It was my first full year of being on varsity and I suffered from something that is not heard of often: two concussions within a three-weeks span. These head injuries took a great toll on me as I started to struggle for the first time in the classroom. I struggled so much to maintain focus and to achieve peak academic success that it was even evident to my teachers that I should not be in the classroom at all. I continued the rest of my junior year going to school half of a day every day so that I could recover completely while taking my school work home to work on. I finished the school year with all A’s and B’s, but it was a struggle to try to maintain academic success as I was an all-A student before my junior year. Along with the brain trauma, I dealt with the loss of two friendships for the first time my junior year. This affected me a lot because it’s hard when you lose a friend you were used to talking to everyday and cutting up with regularly. With the combination of knowing my junior season of lacrosse was over after thriving my sophomore year, this was a tough realization. My advice here would be, there are going to be ups and downs not only throughout high school but throughout life. You will lose friends and you will gain friends. You will deal with adversity, and you will deal with happiness. So, enjoy every moment with your friends and learn from the adversity you face to improve your life and situation.

To start my senior year, I still had headaches daily from my concussions, but I had practically healed completely from them. I became the one of the presidents of West Wackos and Youth and Government (YAG), which were two clubs I grew passionate about ever since I was a freshman, I mended my friendships that I had lost junior year although it is not the same, and I felt more confident in myself than ever before. As time went by waiting to get cleared for lacrosse, I had a turn for the worst once more: a third concussion within a year. After waiting six months to get cleared to get back on the field once again, I took an elbow to the temple playing recreational basketball the day before I was supposed to get cleared to play. During this time, I fell behind once again in school work and less than a month later I got the news from my dream school, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), that I would be put on the waitlist at the university. Knowing that I would be hanging up my stick for good, I was behind on school work and that I now have a very low chance of getting into the only school I’ve wanted to go to since I was a little boy was disheartening. It was so disheartening in fact that I was sent to a neuropsychologist from by neurologist for testing. At the conclusion of this meeting, she believed that my anxiety levels have peaked and that I was probably dealing with some reactive depression from the third concussion, knowing I would not be playing lacrosse my senior year, and getting waitlisted to the only school I was so passionate on attending. So, my advice here, first, is to make sure you try to fix all of your broken relationships from your past. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s important to put your pride aside and at least try. You never know what may happen to you or that person you aren’t on speaking terms with, so make sure you repair it before it’s too late. My second piece of advice is to be a go getter but don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t work out. Go after the things you want because as a freshman, I was determined to lead the student section and be the president of YAG. On the other hand, don’t be discouraged when you don’t get the news you were hoping for. Instead, let it humble you and bring wisdom to yourself as my waitlist letter from UNC did to me.

Life is hard. I will be the first to tell you that it is not easy; however, it’s not what happens to you that makes you who you are, but it is what you do with what happens to you and the opportunities given to you. If you asked me freshman year where I thought I’d be right now I would have said playing baseball and on my way to UNC in the fall but instead I’m a former lacrosse player dealing with post-concussion problems on my way to the University of South Carolina. And although I do not know what is in store for me next, I do know that I have the skill set to be successful wherever I go as I have conquered adversity, pain and change that someone who has never struggled in his or her life may have a hard time handling when conflict is staring at him or her in the face, which I think just might better prepare me for life and is the reason why all of this adversity, in reality, has turned into a blessing.