Change is Hard. Have You Ever Tried to Bend a Quarter?

Greta Nashold, Editor-in-Chief, Opinions Editor

They say an only child is a natural-born leader. I disagree. I find myself to be loud, spontaneous, and I refuse to take grief from anyone—it is that which makes me a leader. Being an only child simply led me to spend my high school years bonding more with the teachers than with my own peers.

I never saw myself as a leader. In sixth grade, my science teacher, Mr. Reiser, informed me that I would be an excellent leader one day. I never wanted to believe him. I wanted to be quiet and reserved–I hoped to keep to my books and classes, never speaking back, never speaking my mind.

Yet I’ve spent my last four years being a part of and leading the school’s finest co-curricular activity (The Norse Star), participating in protests and using social media platforms to exercise my voice, being a leader in athletics, and striving for academic achievement. 

When I was a freshman, I, like many of you, was quiet. I’d just lost a friend and our family’s antique store where I’d spent my entire childhood racing through the aisles, cartwheeling everywhere, watching parades and swinging from the rope swing. I thought my place was to be quiet. To study for eight hours a night and get nothing short of a 96% on each exam despite facing extreme test anxiety. Yes, it was exhausting. And yes, I lost a lot of sleep.

After taking classes with Mr. Thomas and learning about a million different things but mostly inequality, racism, and corruption, I became driven to better our world. I am a firm believer that our police system is designed on the exploitation of others, on violence and racism. I know we are in a climate emergency, and I’m exhausted of a prison system riddled with more Black people than anyone else. Seeing as nothing was going to change our systems, I started to learn that it was my place to be the change.

Then I went to Europe and fell more in love with a culture than I ever could’ve imagined possible. My host partner became family and German became a language I’ll always hold close to my heart. I was in awe that students were excused each Friday to protest for climate justice. I dreamt of an America with similar values. I learned that despite being separated by oceans, we aren’t all that different—we are all human after all.

By the time I returned, a flame had been ignited within me. But almost a year later, a pandemic rattled our world. I was finally able to catch up on a lot of the sleep I’d lost over the last four years. I sacrificed friendships to protect my family as we bonded during weekly family Zooms, which still continue each Friday even now, even over a year later. It was quiet and lonesome but provided a necessary pause on an ever-busy life. 

At the same time, cries of injustice rippled across the world. I knew then that I had to lead, that I had to speak out and demand justice, demand change.

Not once did I make this change alone. It was gradual and I did it alongside the incredible staff who always believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. The staff who pushed me harder because they knew I would succeed. The ones who laughed and cried alongside me and supported me when I was in dire need. You are the gems that shine over on my high school life–you are the ones who made high school worth it. I’m sorry that this [poop]show of a year hit you guys incredibly hard and yet you’re still here, driven to educate all of us. 

By no means was high school easy. I experienced more anxiety than I knew possible. I lost hours of sleep from insomnia and night terrors and studied until I was dizzy. It was hard to learn how to adapt to the ever-changing world. But I grew and changed, and I’ve become the person, the leader, the student and classmate, the senior I always dreamed I would be. And that quiet, studious girl I once knew lives within me still, as do all the memories I’ve experienced these past four years and the countless people I’ve met.

I am a combination of everyone around me, a combination of years of change and learning and rewriting my own philosophies. High school might not be a walk in the park, but there are people and opportunities here that will guide you along the way. I can guarantee it.