Syris Turks

My name is Syris Turks, and I am an 18-year-old boy living in Los Angeles attending  Rolling Hills Prep. To be honest, I am a really young kid still figuring out who I am and how I fit in life, so I cannot tell you that much about me yet. What I do know are some elements that have shaped me today: humor, sports, and the color of my skin. These three are important to me because without them, there is no Syris Turks, without them there is no man writing this essay today.  

Humor is one of the elements that have significantly shaped the person I am today. Ever since I was little, comedy has been something my parents exposed me to. Humor has made me more confident in myself, more positive in life, more able to smile and overall, just happier. Making jokes about certain flaws I felt I had to my peers, made me more comfortable in my own skin. This enabled me to grow up with a “thick skin” when it came to any type of adversity or conflicts that, I faced with others. I learned that if I could accept who I am, be vulnerable and make fun of myself, nothing anyone said to me would have any effect on me. With my humor I was always able to make others and myself laugh at any time. Not until I won “funniest guy” at PVIS my 8th grade year, did I realize my humor made me a better friend and made people I never really talked to like me. The day I won that category, I remember feeling elated and confused at the same time. I always thought I was funny along with my friends, but for much of the school to agree; that was really shocking for me. People came up to me saying congrats and that I had deserved it, I asked them “what do you mean deserve it?” They all told me sometimes when some of us are upset or not feeling good, we try to talk to you or listen to what you’re talking about because we know you will make us feel better. After that, I became more aware and compassionate toward others and how they feel. Humor has also taught me self-control in a way as well. I learned over time that not everyone has the same sense of humor I have and not everyone needs to hear what I am thinking or what’s on my mind. My mouth use to and sometimes still gets me in a bit of trouble to say the least. Self-control is still something I work on every day and something I will acknowledge.  Without humor I could not grow into these traits I value today.  

Sports, another valuable tool I have been fortunate to experience in my life. All three of my parents are and were heavily involved in sports, so it was a no brainer I would eventually become like them in that aspect. One-way sports have shaped my life, is by developing in me my first ever passion. As soon as I started playing tennis, baseball, football, soccer and basketball, I knew sports were going to be a big part of my future. Having the impact of sports made me truly care about my future in general not just as it relates to sports, but also in school. I realized that I could attend college somewhere while pursuing my career in sports. Passion in my life controls almost everything I do. At least in my experience, where there is passion, there is competitiveness, and this is another thing sport has taught me. I’ve notice so far in my life people really don’t seem to realize the importance of competitiveness. Being involved in sports, I didn’t just want to go out there and have fun, I wanted to be the best out there and win every time. My parents were also the type who wouldn’t just waste their money, time and efforts for me to have fun, they wanted me to excel and thrive as well. Even though I got mad at them for pushing me so hard at times, looking back on the situation, it is the one thing I am most grateful for. Because of how involved my parents were with sports and how invested I was, I have learned the importance of work ethic, maybe one of the most vital characteristics a person can have. However, a strong work ethic didn’t click in my head until I got to RHP. The coaches I have had here have been the most influential in my life. In such a small amount of time they pushed and motivated me to be not just the best player, but the best person I can be. My work ethic became everything for me. In order to be the best in the classroom, the soccer field, the music class and the basketball court, I needed to work hard every day and perfect my craft, because being the best doesn’t come easy. No matter what I do I want to the best at it, and this all came from sports.  

The most significant element that I have dealt with my whole life is my skin color. Before I am anything else in this world, I am a Black /African- American man in America. When I walk down the street nobody knows I am funny, nobody knows I like sports, but they do know what my skin color is. My race has had countless impacts on my life, positively and negatively. The first thing I learned regarding race was to be aware of my surroundings. America has come a long way, but not that far because still, to this day, I know I must act a certain way around people just based off my skin color. I know to not take jogs around my neighborhood with my hood on, take off my hat when I enter store, leave my bag if I have one outside a store, speak differently around other ethnicities, be overly respectful and polite in certain areas, and not to go out late with my friends and others. These are rules I follow just because of my skin color. I also learned there are people who hate me and want to harm because of my race. That is something I will never understand, but as crazy as it sounds, I have come to terms with it. Mostly because if people are that ignorant in life, they are the one’s missing out., I have enough friends and people who love me in this world. So, it will never bother me if people don’t like me based on my race.  I have learned to embrace people's ignorance and hate and fuel that as motivation everyday just like many others have. My race made me proud of who I am, humor made me confident about myself, sports made me work harder, but my skin makes me proud to be a successful black man in America, and not just in athletics but academically. My skin color motivates me to get up every morning with the intention to prove to people who believe I cannot succeed, that I will. I will achieve because of my blackness and not despite it. I will prove them wrong and surpass their expectations of me. And that is why I will say it again, I am a black man before I am anything else and I'm proud of that. I taped this quote from Stephanie Lahart to my wall in front of my bed and every time I wake up, I read it three times in my head and then twice aloud and start my day. “Dear Young Black Males, encourage yourself, believe in yourself, and love yourself. Never doubt who you are. Always believe in yourself, even if nobody else does. Strive to be self-motivated!” I share this quote with you all today, not only because of how significant it is for me, but how useful it can be used by everyone here today. Obviously, this quote is directed toward black males like me, but the basis of the quote can be used by anyone to help motivate yourself. Everyone should believe, motivate, encourage and love themselves and to always remember these words, then apply them to your everyday life to the best of your abilities.  

Humor, sports, and my skin color have all shaped me to be a happy, loving, confident, positive, passionate, competitive, hardworking, motivated, and a proud young man. These elements will make me successful in whatever I choose to become in life in the future.