Simmone Okamoto

It was a Sunday night when I realized that I was completely and utterly screwed. I sat on my bed, the lower half of my body tucked into the warm blanket and my upper half sitting up, trying to write an essay I didn’t know how to write.

Suddenly, my step-dad called from the family room: “Simmone, what do you have to do for your senior speech?!”

I froze.

I hadn’t written a single word of my senior speech, nor did I have any idea what to write about, and my senior speech was less than a week away. Over the course of four years, a billion ideas had popped into my head to put in my senior speech, but each one I brushed away, insisting that I’d know when the time came.

When the time finally came around to write the speech though, I still didn’t have any idea what to write about.

I began to search within myself. In my four years at RHP I had heard my share of sappy, dramatic speeches and funny speeches and very serious speeches. I wanted my speech to be different. I wanted it to be remembered. Alex Hulbert’s speech popped into my head initially. It was light and funny but somehow it carried a deeper message, but I realized I couldn’t write something like that. Then, Eric Landon’s speech popped into my head. I giggled remembering how he had walked on stage and thrown his crumpled speech behind him but I knew I couldn’t pull off the stunt he did and, more importantly, it wasn’t me.

The last topic that people always seemed to talk about was a specific talent, or interest.

But when I searched myself for a talent, I found none. I looked around and it seemed that everyone had some unique trait or something that made them stand out.

My best friend is an incredible singer and actor. My fellow Debate Club members always seem to outclass me. My sister can run a five-minute mile and my mother has an unnatural talent for cooking and the arts. Another close friend has the ability to be friends with anyone.

When I looked within myself, I saw emptiness, and, so, I was left with the question, “What am I good at?” It was a question I didn’t know the answer to, and I still don’t know the question to. I cried over it and I searched myself again and again but to no avail.

I began to tell people about how I felt but all I got was:
“You have kindness, hard work and compassion, Simmone,” my mother would say. “It might not be important now but it’ll be important later.”
But to me, all it sounded like was: “You don’t have any actual talents except your personality.” 

“You’re good at academics and working hard,” my friends would tell me.
“Everyone’s good at academics though,” I would say.
 
It was a pattern. I kept criticizing myself. I kept telling myself I wasn’t good enough. I started hating myself and still looking for an answer.
It was a Monday when I found my answer. I sat in the computer lab, drumming my fingers on the computer surface. And in the computer lab with my feet propped on the table, typing my speech, I found a not-so-expected answer:
As high school seniors, we are told we must find our passions, but I haven’t done so yet. Is that wrong? No. We’re young and there’s still plenty of time to figure out what we should all do with our lives.

And I know this sounds really cliché, but I mean it. Tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow I’ll keep on walking and won’t look back.

For now, though, I’ll focus on the present.

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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.