What I Took With Me


Every day, I put each foot into a pair of shoes just like everyone else here. I walk through the halls and every day, I see the same faces staring back at me. I’ll bet you that I’m the only one that even thinks about the bodies that used to populate these halls, and I’d also bet that a surprising amount of freshmen wouldn’t even be able to give you one name of someone who was a senior my freshman year. I remember back then how much they loomed over me, both physically and mentally, even socially. My brother was among the seniors of that year, and it gave me a sense of pride to know that he was my silent protector, that I was untouchable to most because of who I was related to; however, he also cast a shadow on me, and I never could avoid being put right back into an already predetermined role of the sister of Adam, basketball player and class clown extraordinaire.

Walking into most of my classes, I would introduce myself along with the rest of class and I could always see the recognition flash in the teacher’s eyes as they put two and two together between my last name and facial features that I was related to Adam or Alex. It was funny how I could tell whether they had Adam or had Alex in class by the way they reacted. They were separate people and had carved out separate reputations for themselves that had stuck; I know no other way to describe Alex other than the golden boy. He was a star athlete in three varsity sports, was always kind, and was a gentleman. No one disliked him but it seemed like everyone was secretly envious of how easily he juggled everything in life. Adam, on the other hand, was another story. He had the best sense of humor and was a star athlete as well, but he focused all of his energy on refining his talent at basketball and it paid off lavishly; what talent Alex had spread to multiple sports, Adam had spent on basketball and it showed. He was the epitome of hard work and humor.

It’s funny how much I can write about the impressions that they left on me, and if you were to ask me a year ago if I thought I would be living in their shadow my whole life, I would have 100% said yes. Now, though, I’m not sure. They say that the legacy you leave behind is who you are and will define you, but as my brothers moved onto a new world at Kalamazoo College and began to carve their own paths, the only thing that remains here at FHC of them is their records, awards, and photos on the walls, left to collect dust inside glass display cases. What defines a legacy? Is it those shiny trophies that will soon become antiquities? The fading memories in minds like my own that filter through the school, as we replace them with more current ones?

I’m beginning to realize that, in trying to step out of my brother’s shadows and create my own path in life, I accidentally created a legacy of my own in the process. Ironically, it was their basketball coach that desperately pleaded with me to take his Writing for Publication class where I found what I was meant to do. I’ve spent so much time in high school trying to distance myself from my brothers that as soon as they left, I realized I had set myself on a journey of self-discovery in the process, and all of my worrying about whether people would remember me like they would remember my brothers was in vain.

In response to the earlier question that I had asked on what a legacy is, I think the whole idea of ‘leaving a legacy’ behind is crap; the legacy follows you wherever life takes you, it won’t stay with anyone, and won’t be remembered by the school. You’re going to become nothing more than a trophy collecting dust here, and the only thing important about your time here is what you experienced, and what you chose to let shape you into who you will become. Soon, I’ll be gone, and I’ll just be another name on an old article, or a face that you recognize on the streets and flash back to when you knew me in high school. I’m taking with me my legacy, and that legacy is who I’ve become in my 18 years of life. What I choose to do with it is up to me now, and there is no shadow I’m living behind anymore. My legacy isn’t a trophy that isn’t mine or a bad letter grade that is; my legacy is made up of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.