Shota Ogomori

As some of you know, I ride horses as my sport. It’s called show jumping to be specific and I jump obstacles that are about 5 feet tall and can vary in width with a horse to compete. This has been my sport and my only sport since I was able to walk as a baby. It was what I enjoyed, and it was what gave me joy. The excitement and the adrenaline rush going through my mind when competing in these competitions were simply uncomparable. Fast forward to my 15 year-old self when I competed in the National Junior Championships in Japan. I was the youngest rider in history to win the competition. I heard the reporter announce that I have won as I was walking back to my stable thinking someone has already won. Standing on the podium after all the hard work that made this possible was just stress relieving. This moment however was the first time I felt something different about my riding career. But I wasn't really happy. I wasn't satisfied with my riding or how the horse jumped. I felt like I could have done better. I tried to find the smallest mistakes to blame myself to improve. This sense of pressure from my father and my surroundings created an immense amount of weight on my shoulder as if I was dragging everyone's hope with me. People expected me to become a professional, and people expected me to become an Olympian. This was the time when I no longer enjoyed equestrian and it became an obligation to satisfy my surroundings and Japan as a nation. All hopes were on me. 

I dealt with this pressure for several years, fumbling into this school without any enthusiasm to learn. I was too busy thinking about horses. But things changed the moment I rode the bus on the first day of freshman year to Rolling Hills Prep. I found this strange looking guy with eyeliner wearing all black in the very back of the bus. Strangely enough I felt a connection between us and I started to talk to him. He later became the person I could trust the most, and the person with whom I could talk about all my problems, and the same went for him. This close, family-like school environment gave me an opportunity to enjoy life. Before, I was too busy thinking about my well-being and where I stood in rankings for my competitions. The school gave me a place to breathe . Although I continued to think that my task was to not let the people who cheered for me down, I also found out that you can take a moment to relax sometimes. It was those small laughs and jokes that held me through my toughest times. 

My point being, it's okay to take a breather from something you really excel at and have fun at times. It's okay to not stress about the future and live the moment. I didn't want my life to become this stale, nerve-wracking thing where I couldn't enjoy anything. 

So, don't get too crazy about the future and how it's going to be. Instead, think about how to enjoy every moment and learn to appreciate change. Don't go back to your mistakes over and over and blame yourself. You can't change the past. Learn from it and improve yourself. Don't waste your energy overthinking and not doing anything; try something new and keep engaging your life. Don't stress and slouch on the couch and “veg out.”  Keep up whatever you're focused on or good at, though. Success comes from hard work and hard work. And the continuation of hard work.  Keep striving to reach your goal, but also take some breaks here and there. Live your own life, not your dad's, or your surroundings'. 

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Rolling Hills Preparatory School

One Rolling Hills Prep Way
1500 Palos Verdes Drive North
San Pedro, CA 90732

T: (310) 791-1101 | F: (323) 310-9973 
Rolling Hills Prep School prides itself on being a forward-looking, academically rigorous college-prep school with a soul. Every day we provide our diverse student body a high-powered traditional curriculum combined with stimulating and innovative teaching techniques both inside and outside the classroom because we believe that success in college and life is best attained by equipping our students with disciplined minds, sound character, healthy bodies and creative spirits. RHP is a private, coeducational day school for grades 6-12, located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles, CA.

Renaissance, our sister school, believes that bright students who learn differently can rise to great heights when they become empowered and confident. Visit the Renaissance website.