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Finding Your Niche in a Family of High Achievers

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So, Sam what are you interests these days?” ask my aunt Ellen. Its my family reunion in Tampa, Florida and I’ve just spent the last two hours listening to my cousins prattle off every award, achievement, and college acceptance letter they’ve gotten over the past year. I can tell that my grandmother, who has everyone one of her grandchildren’s SAT and ACT scores memorized, has been quietly keeping track of the score for each child over the course of the dinner. I could also tell that I was losing. Now thanks to my wonderful Aunt the spot light had now turned to me. It was time for me to list off all of my own achievements and accomplishments and as I looked at the judgmental faces around me I realized that I had nothing. Nothing. I hadn’t been named most charitable person in the world or the scholar of the year so there was no way that my most recent mention on the yearly honor roll was going to cut it. All that I could do was politely smile and say that I had started to take tennis lessons. I have no idea where that came from, though it was true that I was taking tennis lessons I wasn’t going to win the French Open any time soon. Even I could tell how weak this was so I quickly changed the subject back to my cousin’s recent acceptance to Berkley and Notre Dame and the big question as to which he was going to attend.


While this did succeed in taking the heat off of me, I knew that it had been a close call. What you have to understand about my family is that everyone is a high achiever. Doing something “in your spare time” just doesn’t exist. You commit and your expected to succeed. Now that I had stuck my foot in my mouth and said that I was playing tennis I knew that I was going to have to actually start playing tennis, whether I liked it or not. The only problem with this was that my dad and brother both play tennis, and by play I mean that my dad lettered all four years in high school and got into college on a tennis scholarship. This immediately made me a little cooler towards the tennis idea because I was already a sophomore, so being on varsity all four years in high school might have proved to be difficult. Well technically it would have been impossible.


When I began school that fall I was determined to find an activity that I could fall in love with. I searched high and low trying everything from the chess club to the lacrosse team before I found it. The Speech Team. It was an activity that I didn’t know much about, but I knew the teacher who was in charge of it. As I began to explore the ins and outs of the team and the activity in general I found what I was looking for. I found a place where being quick witted and quirky were traits to be encouraged. Where people were applauded for sharing new and innovative ideas. I knew that I had found my niche.


Next summer just like the last my family had our family reunion This year once again the spot light eventually fell to me, to share my past years achievements, but this year I wasn’t quiet. This year I knew that I could say that I had joined The Speech Team.





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