Wesley Solomon, '24
I recently started driving, and I am proud to say that I have rapidly improved from a skittish newbie to a confident driver. However, my improvement has not come without its challenges.
I squeezed through the neighborhood streets, navigated around those confusing circles of D.C., and even survived the ever-feared Beltway. Then, out of nowhere on the George Washington Parkway, a patch of thick white fog enveloped the SUV. Only after I hit the first wave did Waze alert me of the weather condition. My mom was riding shotgun. Conditions changed so quickly that there was nothing my mom could do. The parkway was too busy, the speeds too high, and the terrain too dangerous to switch drivers. She said that there would have been no benefit: her visibility was less than mine. I had to power through this fog. I had to steer this two-ton vehicle carrying the people I love most. And while loved ones were present, they could offer no help, guidance, or assistance.
“Mom, what should I do?” I stammered. She responded calmly: “Son, I have never been through fog this dense. Slow down, put on your hazards, and do your best.”
This would not be the final instance where I had to navigate a tricky situation, ultimately relying on my own instincts. Like when blinded by the fog, I was blinded by the fast-approaching winter season after the football season ended. There were two options: I could play basketball, which I loved and had played for years, or do crew conditioning to prepare myself, along with my teammates, for the upcoming spring season. Once again, similar to the fog, people I loved were involved. My mom went to college based solely on academics, so she had never had to make a similar decision, but she advised me to consider myself when deciding. Unlike in the fog, where the road ahead was unclear, I was presented with two completely distinct choices. I would have to choose a side. Whichever sport I chose, I would disappoint someone. For multiple days I talked to everyone I respected and cared about, some telling me to put the school above myself and play basketball. In contrast, others alerted me to the fact that my dreams were important (I would love to row in college) and that this conditioning season would be paramount to achieving my dreams. However, after all the consulting, the decision came to me. I had to choose a side, the other would be hurt, and part of me would be hurt too.
It dawned on me that this fog, this unforeseen problem is a metaphor for life. I am sure that there will be many more decisions that will be tough to make. There will be burdens seemingly impossible to bear. I will ask for guidance, and people I admire will offer sage advice, but it will be me that has to forge ahead to determine my fate. I must rely on myself, my judgment, and my instincts to maneuver through life.
While St. Albans forces us to make difficult decisions like this, it is these decisions that help us to grow as people, and we are supported along the way. That is why I really love St. Albans. It might seem weird for most everyday high school students to say they love their high school, but not me. I genuinely love my high school. I love it because of all of the lessons it has taught me. I love it because of its evolution that makes space for a student like me to thrive. I love it because of all of the relationships I have cultivated. I love it because of all of the hard work I must do physically and academically. Just as the fog came and went, my time at St. Albans will eventually be in my rearview. However, just as I learned a lesson from the fog, I will never forget the lessons I have learned on the Close. The friendships made here will be among the voices that matter most in future decisions. Through tough times and times of joy, I will consult my family, dear friends, and Bulldog advisors; however, I will have to chart my own course. Because of this special place, I will be ready!