It isn't every day that a cliché so accurately depicts the landscape of my life. In the cliché “what a difference a year makes”, we gauge the growth of a person, not by unexplained phenomena or statistical irregularity, but by the simplest constant in human existence: time. In a matter of 365 days, the most basic element can drastically transform every aspect of our life.
Exactly 365 days ago, I was caught in the whirl-wind that is Boys & Girls Clubs of America: Youth of the Year. My life was a mess of speeches, rehearsals, photos, pressure, pressure, pressure: this, all while trying to be a senior in high school. This was my life and at the time, it seemed to be too much for me to handle. Every week was a competition between Darrius Shaw “Texas Youth of the Year,” and normal, socially awkward Darrius. With every day, my limitations were pushed and I was left feeling defeated.
Then, the speeches came further in between, the cameras stopped flashing; when I was introduced, there were no stereos resonating in an auditorium filled with wide-eyed strangers and unfamiliar faces. I embraced it. However, what remained was the pressure: college student, BGC alum, NYU-student ambassador, role-model, poster boy. The difference? A year of pressure, unnatural forces, the blistering inferno of expectation – it all formed my skin to feel as hard as diamonds. With that year, “what did not kill me, made me stronger”. Cliché as it might seem, the trials that tested me in this last year have made me more capacble of conquering each new role bestowed upon me.
Growth is only a small aspect of exactly how much difference a year makes. This summer I will be interning at Advanced Micro Devices in Austin, Texas. I will be working as an engineer tackling practical problems. I will be living my dream. 365 days ago, that was as close as I could ever fathom: dreaming. In a year, we have a capacity to completely change our circumstances, totally reconstruct the idea of fantastical, and absolutely redefine reality. The things that we endure, no matter how cliché they might be, mold us into the people we are to become. I am still growing; we are all still growing. But every day will bring us more wisdom, more strength and more opportunity. So make today the beginning of shaping your new life, so that in 365 days you may look back and say to yourself “what a difference a year makes.”