Tatum Tamashiro

Fear. It is the main emotion every person in this room has felt at some point in their life. Whether you are scared of clowns, earthquakes, the dark, love, death or even failure, everyone experiences the unpleasant feeling of fear. 

When I was younger, fear was the thing that controlled me. I was like a host for this overpowering emotion. Constantly thinking about the worst outcomes, it had felt like I was brainwashed from feeling normal. The only time I truly felt comfortable was when I was with my family. We did everything together and were there for one another. I felt safe in control. 

In elementary school, I was always quiet and never raised my hand, staying under the radar with my best friend. During those years we had encountered a few unfriendly classmates. Let’s just say that we stood up for ourselves in those moments, but didn’t always receive the benefit of the doubt. There were only a few glimpses when fear did not have control over me. When it came to protecting the people I loved, there was no doubt 

I spent many years fearing that I was going to fall, until one experience changed it all. When I was 9, my dad had passed away after a long hard-fought battle with cancer. It was the day after Christmas. I was forced to grow up quickly and mature to help my family survive. From that day forward something had switched. I knew that in order to help my mom take care of my siblings and I, I couldn’t be that scared little girl who was too afraid to try new things and make everyone’s lives more difficult. My perspective on life had changed. There were much bigger things to be worried about and life could always be worse.

Fast forward to my freshman year, I had just started at RHP. I was so intimidated to join this new school along with a championship-winning basketball program. That year I ended up growing extremely close to the team. We dealt with a lot of hate, faced injuries, mourned together and even experienced death, but we always came together and picked each other up if one of us fell. Early that year, someone who was a part of the basketball program family had passed away. He was one of the people who had helped me get to where I am today, my coach. This took a toll on not only me, but my teammates too. Once again I was put in a position to help my family. I was forced to put my worries and doubts aside and step up to the task. Ultimately, I grew as a player and a person having to balance and deal with the troubles that came along that year. We ended up going to the state championship which was rewarding considering how much work and perseverance we had to endure.

The next few years would be just as challenging, but my fears would not hold me back from new opportunities. Every obstacle is just an opportunity to become stronger and learn from it. I had let my own anxieties and fears control me for too long until life threw multiple hurdles at me. Accepting what has happened and figuring out how to persevere through the difficulties is one of the most important things I have learned.  Today, I try to live without worrying about the past and future but being present in the moment with the people around me who I love.