More from the Class of 2021 Series:

“Hey! I’m Cristina and I’ve been in Sacred Heart since K4 (2007)! In the fall, I will be attending the University of Toronto’s Rotman Commerce program.

I remember back when I first came to Sacred Heart, I thought our school was so big that all of our students made up most of the Japanese population— which, looking back, is SO wrong— but everything was just scaled up so much in my 4-year-old head. The junior school, middle school, and high school students that I would look up to every day seemed like adults, and I admired them incredibly. I remember one afternoon in junior school, I was just so excited to feel like an “old” middle schooler, and decided to fold the top half of my pinafore inwards so that I could turn my junior school uniform into the skirt that middle and high schoolers wore. 

I really enjoyed all of my excursions, but I think two of them were really memorable, for two different reasons. The first was my fourth-grade excursion— the first excursion the class of 2021 ever got to experience. Being able to spend the three days with our 8th-grade counselors was so fun. I remember we wanted them to spill all the beans on their personal life, and see if they had any significant others. When we were nine or ten, talking about romance was so funny, because we were still going through that “ew, boys!” stage, so it was hilarious. The second excursion was the one in junior year. I could never forget when on our second night, a group of us just sat down on the couches in the cozy little lobby area and started singing “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. It was such a wholesome moment, and I could never forget it.

My best memories certainly outweigh the bad ones, but life goes in waves, and it’s normal that we all go through some challenging moments. I’ve had some points in life where I felt frustrated because I felt like some people around me were changing, even though I wanted them to stay the same forever, as well as times in which I felt insecure and timid in environments where everyone around me was thriving. In retrospect, I am grateful for these moments because these experiences have not only been able to make me resilient and much stronger, but allowed me to help others when they go through similar emotions. This is why whenever I am struggling with something nowadays, I can get myself out of negative feelings, because I know that they will make me stronger, and will make my skin even thicker. 

We tend to sugarcoat things with others and pretend that life is always going well. But honestly, if we live a life without any obstacles, we would never experience growth, which is the most beautiful thing. I really feel like I was able to make the best out of my last few years here, at Sacred Heart. After not being elected as grade rep for six consecutive years, I was finally able to work up the courage to go for the representative position for the Social Service Council— which I would have never imagined myself doing, especially because councils seemed so intimidating to me in 10th grade. But now, I can’t imagine just how different I would have been if I didn’t go for it. I will really miss working with our wonderful students and teachers so much.

I’m so incredibly grateful for my family, for allowing me to go to Sacred Heart, and let me explore my interests by letting me travel to GIN Conferences in middle school, as well as to Nepal and Fukushima in high school. I’ve been able to experience such unforgettable memories, and they have all shaped me into who I am today.

I am also so grateful for all of my friends at Sacred Heart. I will really miss laughing hysterically during Calculus class as a coping mechanism when we were clueless, and the super intriguing conversations we’ve had in Japanese class in the last two years. I will also miss being able to just cry into anyone’s arms whenever I am feeling down. Sacred Heart has such a tight-knit community that I feel so comfortable opening up to anyone. So I will miss that a lot.

I also can’t say enough “thank yous” to my teachers. Thank you for never, ever doubting my abilities, believing in me, making me feel safe, and for joking around with me in the hallways. Life at school would’ve been so different without you. In times in which I felt alone, I knew I could always go talk to you, and you constantly made school feel like home. Really, thank you so much. I would also like to give a special thank you to Ms. Shull: thank you so much for giving me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the Editor of HOSH. The connections I’ve made and conversations I’ve had this past school year have been so incredibly enriching and inspiring. It was such an honor to be able to have a platform to share stories of resilience with our community. 

To everyone: if any of you ever need someone to talk to, I will always be right here for you. Also, though, remember that just like the Sacred Heart community had my back, they also have your back, and are there for you if you need help. The Sacred Heart community is really special, so whether it is a teacher, an underclassman, or an upperclassman, you should try to get to know them. You might have the best conversations, the most unforgettable memories, and lifelong friendships that can come out from what may seem like a simple interaction.

Now, when you are forming these connections and someone behaves differently from normal, remember that even if someone’s life may seem perfect from the outside, chances are, they probably are going through something. That’s why it is really important to be understanding and compassionate. If you are having a conflict with someone, or don’t understand why they are behaving in a certain way, put yourself in their shoes, and you will realize that they are also having their own personal struggles. So, it’s important to stop making assumptions, and instead, connect with the person and find out the truth.

Also, don’t worry about being ‘perfect’. First of all, ‘perfect’ doesn’t even mean anything. It really doesn’t exist. So, I know this is hard (and I am still working on it too) but disregard what other people think about you and just let yourself go, and focus on becoming the best version of yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t have a specific goal in mind. I personally like taking things step by step. If a specific extracurricular, or club, or leadership position was to sound really interesting, then you should go for it, no matter how intimidating it may seem. The other day, I was watching “Glee” clips on YouTube, and I heard Kurt Hummel say, “Shame is a wasted emotion.” This resonated with me, and I think would help out so many of us. Don’t worry about the “what-ifs,” because they will be irrelevant in the future. On the other hand, if you end up not trying out, that feeling of guilt can stick with you, and it can consume you. So, seek opportunities, and do what you love! If it doesn’t work out, and you realize that your interests have changed, that’s completely fine. As humans, we continuously evolve, and our interests change, so you can navigate other opportunities that seem interesting. But, if for any reason you are not selected for an activity (be it Student Council, Vocal Ensemble, Debate, a club leader position, or anything else,) keep working hard, because one day, you will be able to shine, and all of your efforts will be acknowledged. I like to tell myself that “Everything happens for a reason.” I honestly think I’ve lived by this quote in the last few years, because whether you believe in it or not, convincing yourself that that is the case can help guide you in life. By doing this, without knowing, you will have built a wonderful path for yourself.

But how do we know that this path is good for ourselves? Remember to focus on yourself, and not think about those around you. If this path allows you to do things you love, that make you feel fulfilled, and valuable, then that’s all that matters. I really like a quote from Maya Angelou that says, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Notice, it doesn’t have anything to do with money or fame or other people’s opinions— no matter how old you are, you have control over your own definition of success.

Our different paths are what make the world so balanced and beautiful. Just like there are millions of stars in the night sky when we “reach for the stars” we have to reach for the unique star that makes us shine bright for who we are. So do what makes you happy, and let your energy radiate through the amazing and diverse night sky that is our world.” — Cristina