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  • Writer's pictureJ-Kimes

Chapter 1: And So It Begins

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

“God has a way of creating good lessons out of bad circumstances.”

There I was, looking like a big piece of cheese in my bright yellow cap and gown and feeling a little nauseated to boot. The day had finally come, a day which most are excited about, yet I dreaded. High school graduation was about to commence, in which I would give my valedictorian speech. I felt like I was about to receive a punch to the stomach rather than a diploma. I had grown used to this feeling. It’s the same feeling I got before a race in track or before a big shot in a basketball game. It was the fear of failure, or more accurately, the fear that I would suck. It was that strange fear and anxiety that asks, “What if I don’t do great? What if I don’t win? What if I wind up looking like an idiot and the whole world laughs at me in unison?” That seems a little outrageous, but funny how that’s exactly how we feel about failure. It’s always the worst possible outcome in our minds. However, our fear in most scenarios is like a cat’s fear of cucumbers: Irrational. Yes, it’s a feeling I had come to know well. As a matter of fact, it’s now a feeling I’ve come to welcome. But we will get to that later.

The Glory Days

High school had been an adventure full of transformation. You learn a whole bunch of information you don’t really retain and try to climb the social ladder. The social ladder was not my priority, nor did I consider myself popular. I spent most of my time playing sports and focusing on my schoolwork, and was, to the surprise of my friends now, quite the introvert throughout most of high school. My eyes were already on the next step. College. I had spent all four years obsessing about my basketball game for the chance to play at the next level and striving to be the best in my other sports as well. I made sure to keep up my “good student” reputation as well, even with occasional class skipping and constant procrastination. As summer drew close, senioritis slowly kicked in, but I managed to stick it out. Freedom was days away!

High School had seemed so complicated, but looking back, it was a cake walk. That overdramatized four years had taught me quite a bit, but as I reflect on what I had learned, I couldn’t say my knowledge came from the pages of textbooks. Life lessons come in all various shapes and sizes. By the end of my high school career, I had discovered how weird and fun my outgoing side was. I made lasting friendships with my teammates and learned about how to succeed merely through the need to win. That was my high school motto! I needed to win, to achieve, to succeed! Once I got a taste of victory, it became my diet. I’d chant to myself in the locker room before each event, “I will mount up with wings like eagles.” It was my battle cry. The need to win is something that has stuck with me, and I am thankful for that fire inside. Success was my high school sweetheart!

What is Love?

Speaking of love, as a teenage girl, I sought it around every corner not even knowing what love was. And man, was I oblivious! Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t date in high school but the high school me just wanted someone to want me. If you’re a girl, you know what I’m talking about. “I wonder if he likes me. Is he acting weird around me because he likes me, or is he just weird? Or am I weird?” Yes, I am and yes I was. Guys, you might think that women overthink things. We do. But in all fairness, we usually have to make up for your lack of thinking, so don’t judge. Love was a nonstop game for me at that time which consisted on making a list and trying to check off the boxes according to each candidate. I had high standards, literally, considering I was taller than about 90 percent of guys in my school. I didn’t learn much about love during high school only having a few crushes that came and went, but I took some advice from my dad, not knowing just how true it was going to be. He told me, “When you find the one, you’ll know.”

Time for Change

Through all my sports accolades, my academic success and my fleeting moments of what I thought was love; my greatest lesson actually came from a more bittersweet circumstance. My parents were going through a divorce during my early high school years. I kept my home life sparse with all my extracurriculars, but I carried that tension with me. I made sure to be too busy to worry about it, but it was always in the back of my mind. It sucked but I’m thankful for it. “What? How could I be thankful? A divorce is nothing to be thankful about.” No, but I did learn a lot from it. It wasn’t a sob story to me, but rather a chance to learn about a very important aspect in life. Change. It comes at us when we least expect it, but because of my parents’ divorce, I learned to adapt, and ultimately, I learned to love change. The change of meeting new people, trying new things and discovering new places. Don’t get me wrong! I’m against divorce and believe it is never what God intends in our lives. However, God has a way of creating good lessons out of bad circumstances. This is a lesson I carry with me to this day. I have learned to love change and appreciate the life lessons that come with hardships!

Head On

“Line up everyone!” We were in two single file lines walking in unison toward the stage. I marched along, one step at a time, second guessing my speech but knowing it was too late to change it. Was it funny enough or at least entertaining? Was it inspiring? What if the crowd doesn’t react to anything? Why did I have to give the speech? Sure, I’m valedictorian, but that doesn’t mean I’m the smartest. I quickly scanned my classmates thinking of anyone else that really deserved this honor. Let’s be honest though. They probably pitied me right then. This was my burden to bear. One of my friends, the co-valedictorian was at the lectern. She seemed so calm, so poised. She was kind, sweet and very smart, the kind of girl who deserved to be up there speaking to the crowd. It was a speech well done and about done! My turn approached. My thoughts ran rabid. What else could I say? Maybe I could… “Jordan Kimes.” Gulp! My name had been called and before I knew it my legs were dragging me stage left. I quickly laid my outline on the lectern, adjusted the mic and…out came words. Next thing I knew, I was practically skipping back to my seat amongst my classmates. All that anxiety for a five-minute collection of words. Why had I been so worried? And why was it such a big deal? Truth is, I remember about as much of my speech now as the crowd does. We tend to overthink our fears, building them up into brick walls before us. Each time we worry about something different, we add a brick to the wall. We create our own obstacles built on emotion, but emotion can’t stand against action. So, take the wall head on and watch it go tumbling down!

Me pre-speech!

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