Senior goodbye: Rising above


Shae Daugherty

“The monster in my mind–all my fears and anxieties and doubts–is one that I’m sure will resurface as I experience the unknowns of college, but now I know I can conquer it. I know I can do so much more and be so much more than I often let myself believe.”

Loose strands of hair clung to our foreheads with sweat as the sun scorched our path. The muscles in our legs were a bit tight and our breath was labored, but we were happy. The cross country girls and I were always happy when we were together. We found ways to laugh and talk amid the almost unbearable heat and occasional pain. Such laughter and chatter, along with the steady rhythm of tennis shoes against the pavement, were the sounds of summer to me.

The cross country girls were like my family, and away from the heat of Celebration Park was the cold of room E103–and a different type of family. The newspaper staff worked hard day in and day out, typing away at their computers to serve the community with their stories. In between the writing and editing, we joked and ate from the snack cabinet and talked about our week as we passed a stuffed chicken.

As I prepare to begin the next phase of my life, those times with the cross country team and newspaper staff are the moments I will always remember, for those were the times where I felt most bonded with those around me and made friendships I’ll never forget.

But I’ll also always remember those times because in between the joy and smiles were moments of doubt and worry.

Moments where a monster in my mind clawed away, telling me I couldn’t do it, that I could never be as good a runner as those around me until I was left hyperventilating and barely able to make one foot step in front of the other.

Moments where I doubted my abilities as I typed and deleted and typed and deleted my words and ran myself ragged wondering what people would think of my writing. Wondering if I would live up to everyone’s expectations. Wondering if I was enough.

Too often, all my fears, anxieties, doubts, and insecurities concerning failure and not achieving perfection would bubble over and consume me. During a test or a race or a horseback competition, negative thoughts would weigh on my mind and my heart, crushing me with such force that I couldn’t escape them. I would basically sabotage myself because, despite my fear of failing and not being enough, I would give in to the idea that I couldn’t succeed.

After all, why should I succeed? There were countless other people that were so much better than me. What was I even doing here, acting like I belonged? Acting like I deserved this?

What made me so special? What made me think I could do this? What made me think I even had the right to try?

Every question was a blow that knocked me lower, but over time, with the help of family and friends and teachers, I learned to block out these negative thoughts and instead trust in myself, my training, the Lord, and the abilities He gave me and lean on loved ones for support, guidance, and assistance. I also realized that, when I stopped worrying, I performed much better. For too long, I was underestimating myself, when I was really capable of so much more than I thought I was. I had to simply rise above the lies in my mind and stop acting as my own enemy–my own barricade holding me back.

I found that I could be everything I wanted to be when I stopped trying so hard to be everything I wanted to be.

Even with this revelation and new mindset, there were still moments of failure, as that’s just life. But I realized that I could fail without being a failure. When I didn’t succeed in a competition or in class, I remembered that my identity wasn’t in my abilities, but in Christ, and my mother helped me see that failures were learning opportunities in disguise.

Times when I fell flat on my face where the moments when I grew the most and that showed me how many people cared about me, as friends and family were always there to brush me off and encourage me. Those same people were there in times of triumph, pouring so much genuine love and joy and pride into me that I thought I would burst and was unsure of how to adequately thank them.

I’m still not sure how to repay every amazing person in my life for everything they’ve done for me. I’d be nowhere without their support, time, advice, and love.

The monster in my mind–all my fears and anxieties and doubts–is one that I’m sure will resurface as I experience the unknowns of college, but now I know I can conquer it. I know I can do so much more and be so much more than I often let myself believe.

Of the cage made from the negativity that used to hold me, I know I can be free.