Finishing High School Strong

by Nick Schade ’23

I had a mile left. Or was it more? I couldn’t tell, because every step I ran felt like a million, and every breath I took stabbed at my side. As my strength left my body in raspy gasps I began to doubt whether I could even complete the race. Yet I knew I couldn’t stop: this was the cross country county championship, potentially my last race in high school. Is this how you want to go out, I anxiously thought, or can you turn things around? You have just one last chance.

I came into senior year deeply unsatisfied and disappointed with my high school experience. I had entered Sherwood as a comfortable, reasonably outgoing person, but by my junior year had devolved into a shy, self-isolating introvert who rarely talked to anyone I didn’t know well. This change was partially brought on by Covid-19, where for several months I had few social interactions. However, by the time restrictions were lifted and I was able to attend school and sports practices again, I felt like I had forgotten how to carry out conversations and closed myself off from meeting new people and trying new activities.

I’ve strived to change this as a senior. I started by rekindling and strengthening my existing friendships, making it a goal to spend more time with people outside of the school day. In the past, I had often waited for my friends to make plans for me on weekends but now recognized that I needed to take the initiative to keep our friendships going. I’ve also started to talk more with people in classes and on cross country that I wouldn’t have considered talking to before, and have made several new friends.

I’ve also pushed myself to try as many new experiences as possible. I went to homecoming for the first time in my four years at Sherwood and even auditioned to become a singer for Rock and Roll Revival. I was surprised to find that I fit in well with everyone else in both these events (and that my singing was acceptable enough to go on stage).

Ultimately, I was able to finish my race at counties and went on to run in both the regional and state championships. I feel as though the race is somewhat representative of my senior year: with the time I had remaining, I wasn’t sure what I could accomplish, but I managed to finish stronger than I expected.