Senior Story: Overcoming Shyness

Last year, seniors started delivering Senior Speeches at Morning Meeting. This Senior Speech is by Julie Qian ’20 and was delivered in early September.

Julie Qian ’20

A few days ago, my friend and I were talking and he asked me, “What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?” I could easily respond because there has been this one mortifying memory that’s haunted me for the longest time.

This story took place three years ago, when I was a new 9th grader at Athenian and let me tell you, I was painfully shy. You can ask any senior right now what they thought of me at that time, and they would tell you that I was either really quiet or that they didn’t know who I was because I was so quiet. Besides this, I joined the Athenian swim team even though I was incredibly nervous to go into a sport without knowing a single person.

The swim team has a wonderful long-standing tradition where we have a specific chant at the first home meet of the year. A 9th grader is selected to help perform part of the chant, and for some reason even though I was a quiet little thing, I was chosen to do so. I was really nervous, which only made things go downhill because I completely butchered the chant. I’m in front of my team, the other team, a second swim team, a ton of parents, and some students watching the meet when I just mess up the chant. I thought about this event for quite a few days after.

Me speaking to you right now shows how different I am as a senior now. I’m not sure if it’s clear to you all, but I’m not really super nervous speaking right here. This change isn’t that I used to be shy and now I’m no longer shy, but rather that I’m confident in who I am and the kind of person I want to be. Math classrooms forced me to accept that I’m going to be wrong a lot—honestly, maybe the majority of the time—and it doesn’t matter if the entire class hears me give a wrong answer. In lit classrooms, I was forced to present my ideas even if I thought they weren’t worth hearing. I held more responsibilities running clubs and helping as an ambassador or working on The Pillar newspaper.

This time you have here at Athenian is the perfect time to find your confidence and your growth, in whatever avenue you choose to do so.

To those of you who are really confident, you have the opportunity to be the one to reach out to others in your grade. I hope you haven’t judged shy people to be someone who isn’t worth knowing because some of them turn out to be the wittiest, kindest, and most wonderful people. You’re missing out.

I’m Julie Qian and that’s my senior story.