“Everyone Has Their Earl” by David Henderson '16

I did not start as the marvelous specimen before you. Like many great odes, my tale began with a weak and lanky boy who could not find his way. I entered the middle school with flimsy circular glasses and a thick bowl cut. I basically was the definition of cool.

On day one of middle school, my Dad said, “Make Nobles your own.” In theory this message was great, but it would be difficult given that three of my uncles, six of my cousins, two of my brothers, and my mom and dad either attended or worked at Nobles.

Regardless of this, I marched forward and tried to find where I could shine. I had grown up playing soccer, reaching almost ten years of playing by the time I went into the 7th grade, so naturally I joined the football team. I didn’t do much; I weighed barely 100 pounds, so I looked like a bobble-head with my helmet on, just standing there and filling up space.

Because sports failed, I attempted to act; I was pretty good it turns out. How did I learn this? Well on day one I passed gas quite audibly, but then played it off like it was the person next to me, and tricked everyone in the room. When it came to memorizing lines, though, I was quite incompetent, so I scratched that off the list.

Next was my attempt at being a hardcore academic. But didn’t know how to spell academic in the 7th grade, so that goal ended about when I finished the word "hardcore."

So I figured I would just be a normal kid. People like normal kids and if you squinted hard enough I looked like a normal person. This dream, like the rest, barely got off the ground. I was diagnosed with a bunch of letters like ADD and OCD, labels that I thought none of the other normal kids would have. I was out of places to fit into; I couldn’t conform to be what I thought my peers would like. I kept trying and failing.

We shall skip through the 8th and 9th grade, for in those years I didn't leave my comfort zone nor did I try to be myself. I continued to try and fit into places that I didn’t really belong. Which brings us to the 10th grade.

At this point in time of the story, the hero, me, normally finds a single mentor who takes him in and trains him to unleash his full potential. This didn’t happen, at least not the way it occurs in mythology. I thought it was possible that maybe I missed my mentor. Perhaps, if I had helped some old lady across the street instead of just running past her, she would have told me the secrets for being the cool kid in high school. Now, while this may well have been true, I beg the lost Class III students to not track down old ladies crossing streets because I feel inclined to say that the odds of them holding the secret to being cool are extremely poor. Instead, I realized that all the mentorship I needed was right around me. The faculty of Nobles would be my guide from that point on in my Nobles story, and hopefully that will be true for the rest of my life.

The closest I came to finding that singular mentor was Mr. Ulrich. He was literally my advisor, so why I didn't reach out to him sooner I can’t explain, but when I finally asked for his support, I was glad I did. He, along with Dr. McQuillan, guided me through my work by helping me with time management skills, something my teachers know I was horrendous at. I argue one of the most important things he did, though, was bring me back to participating in athletics at Nobles. He was my coach for cross-country and I was good!.. at talking, but the running part of cross-country seems to be where I fell short. He pushed me through, to run faster, but also to be myself and to allow my gift of gab to carry me to be an impactful part of my team. I was and still am, as a senior, a Junior Varsity runner on the Cross Country team. But I am proud of that fact because it taught me that I don’t need to be the fastest or the best to be an important member of a team.  From these interactions I gained this awesome thing called self-confidence. This feeling of confidence was strange, like an old friend that I hadn’t seen in 3 years embracing me saying, "you can do this David, people might possibly have a chance of liking you." My self-confidence was a work in progress at the time, but I took what the faculty said to heart and I started to become the person I wanted to be.

Now we skip ahead again to my junior and senior years, because I know that if I go on for much longer, Class IV will become restless and head to the bathrooms for sanctuary. I urge you to remain in your seats, for at this point in time in our story, an old friend of ours enters: Earl.

For those of you who do not know of this legend, Earl is a mystical deer skull, which I found whilst taking a semester in Colorado at the High Mountain Institute my junior year.

I did not like Earl and Earl did not like me. Nevertheless, I had to help carry him for two weeks on a camping trip in the Utah desert with a group of my peers who adored him. When one night he was haphazardly left at a campsite, I volunteered to walk the 10 miles to get him at 3 in the morning. From this I learned an important lesson about selflessness and putting others first, but that is not all Earl gave me.

Keep in mind that he could not speak, for he was only a deer skull, but Earl was my gateway into talking in assembly. It was the first time I was able to get up in front of all of you and be myself. I know it might sound strange, but Earl was the light that guided me to find myself. Everyone has their Earl, that one thing that pushes them to reach their goals and follow what they are passionate about. Because of my Earl, I realize just what an amazing group of people are in the class of 2016 with me. I have formed friendships that will last a lifetime, not because I was fitting in, but because Nobles gave me the confidence to be myself.

The closing of my odyssey is this: You are going have obstacles in your life, everyone has them, but don’t let those obstacles become excuses. Don't let them block you from who you are and what you want to do. I urged everyone to find their Earl, to be who they want to be, and to take advantage of everything Nobles and life has to offer. The class of 2016 did and we turned out to be pretty freaking amazing.

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“Everyone Has Their Earl” by David Henderson '16