Naya Stroud

I’ve sat through countless senior speeches but when it came to me I didn’t know what to write about. All of my thoughts about everything that I had ever done ran through my mind. All the life lessons that I’d ever learned, all the mistakes that I’d ever made, and every experience that I’d ever had. It was difficult to find just one that I wanted to write about. After thinking for a while I thought that I’d write about change. Change has always been very present in my life. When I was little I grew up in a small town called Ojai. It was about 10 miles long, nowhere near the city, and one of the hottest places ever. For a long time I thought that I would spend the rest of my life there. It was home to me. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else but there. Of course I was little so my dreams didn’t go far past climbing the tallest tree in the town and living in a castle with my best friends. I didn’t have many friends but the few that I did have I kept close. We soon were sent to different schools and I was forced to make new friends. The school was San Antonio Elementary. I met some of the funniest people I’d ever have the pleasure of knowing there. They were those boys in elementary school that were always messing with the teacher and getting into trouble but, they gave me a sense of humor that I have today. Im glad they did because I don’t know what type of person I’d be without the humor that I have today. 

It was only my 6th grade year when my mom told me that we had to move. She told me that it was either LA or Colorado. The thought of being away from home scared me. I didn’t want to leave my grandparents who I’d had the privilege of being around all my life, everyday. Either way it was just a matter of distance. I was going to have to say goodbye to the place I loved the most. All my friends, all the food, the way they did things there. I knew it would be so much different in a city. I remember going to San Francisco as a kid and hating it. It was all too much for me. I didn’t like the big crowds and the traffic. How loud people talked on the phone. I pictured LA to be something exactly like that. 

During the summer of 6th grade going into 7th. It was mostly packing. I got to hangout with my best friend Jory and we swam in the pool as much as possible and even used the surf bored in it. We jumped on the trampoline in the sprinklers. There was one moment where we stopped giggling and she told me how much she was going to miss me. She was the saddest part about leaving. That summer, my mom and I packed up all our things and left. Our way to LA I slept the whole entire time until we got to the new house. The second I got out of the car the air was already different. I didn’t want to live here. It was just like how I imagined it. I didn’t like living there for the first couple of months and I didn’t have lots of friends except the kids on my block. 

Summer was ending and I had to soon start at my new school. Rolling hills prep. My mom told me that there was a meet and greet at a bowling alley. I was scared because I wasn’t up to be social and I didn’t know what the people there would be like. I picked out the most “ first day at 7th grade” outfit that you could possibly imagine and wore it there. I sat in the car for a good 10-15 minutes dreading the fact that at some point, I would have to go inside. I sat in the car for another 5 minutes and then went in. I saw a surprising amount of people there. They were all laughing and seemed to have already figured out who they were going to be friends with. That made me more nervous. I stuck a piece of paper with my name on it on my shirt and walked over. I was surprised how welcoming everyone was. I joined the game and soon I was laughing too. It had never been that easy for me but they were so welcoming. 

I didn’t stay friends with a lot of the people that I met there but I did make new ones even faster than I thought. My real friends came to me in my highschool years after many experiences with fake ones. I can’t say that I enjoyed middle school all that much and I went through some pretty painful experiences. I struggled to keep my grades up and I wasn’t open to the teachers help. When  highschool rolled around it wasn’t till sophomore year that I really adjusted to the school. I started to accept the help and before I knew it I was doing fine. Not only that but I met one of my best friends. Maia Taylor. We did everything from making album covers for Nathan and Kaleb to staying up all night till we were delirious. 

I’m not saying that my years at RHP have been perfect or that it was in any way easy for me to adjust, but I made some of what I know are going to be lifelong friends here. Change is hard, and everyone handles it differently. So if you’re not understanding something or making friends is difficult at the moment, just know that you aren’t alone. Everyone goes through tough times and as Coach Masson always says, “Just remember someone else has got it worse.”