Embracing What Lights Your Fire

In late April, I sent an email to the class of 2019. I told them that we were opening up The Picador to farewell articles, an opportunity for anyone to leave Holderness a final message. Little did I know, sending that email would inspire my final words as a student here.


I received almost no interest, and it left me extremely disheartened. The Picador has been an extremely special part of my Holderness experience, and it’s not every day you get the chance to express yourself through words and send them out into the world to be read. I look at writing for The Picador as an enormous honor and privilege, and it’s frustrating to see my peers respond apathetically to this opportunity. Though it’s only a single example, I believe this is indicative of a pervasive culture of apathy at Holderness.


That’s not to say Holderness students don’t care or work hard, but too often we do so selectively. A student who loves sports might give their all on the lacrosse field but sulk in the back of English class. A dedicated math student may be engaged in calculus class, but shirk responsibility in the job program. Many of us are too focused on our interests and passions to be open-minded when it comes to anything else. One of the things I care a lot about is our school newspaper, and I understand that not everyone feels the same way. But, I wish a few more seniors who weren’t on the staff cared to branch out and write a farewell article.


Apathy manifests itself differently in each individual. However, the most widespread example of this is our perceived jock culture. At Holderness, like many schools, it’s cool to be good at sports. This alone is not problematic until it is paired with the apathetic attitude of many students toward schoolwork, clubs (like The Picador), the arts, and intellectual curiosity. Rather than supporting a kid who goes out of their way to learn something new, most of our students mock them for being nerdy or a “teacher’s pet.” However, a soccer player who stays late to practice penalty shots is praised for their dedication.


When I read a book on the bus, or continue classroom conversation with a teacher after class, or leave school early to see a visiting politician, I am given a hard time. More troubling, this does not come from bullies or bad people, but from my dear friends who simply are not accustomed to seeing someone use their brain for anything outside the classroom. They genuinely do not understand why I care about something outside the Holderness bubble like international politics. It’s not just me though. I am often frustrated to see smart and hardworking students who are less outspoken than myself keep their intellectual curiosity to themselves.


So, in my final public words to the Holderness community, I want to encourage each student to follow their passion unapologetically, even if that interest doesn’t fit the mold of your image of a Holderness student. There’s nothing wrong with being an intellectual or artistic person, even those these qualities aren’t always the ones that make you popular or give you social clout. Culture can only develop when those who are a part of it are brave enough to step up and change it. I want any student reading this to know they can change culture by following their interests unapologetically, fighting apathy with passion and enthusiasm.


I hope I have left some kind of example for others to follow, pursuing my love of history, government, politics, reading, activism, and journalism without holding back in the past two years.


When I look back on my Holderness experience, my only regrets are the times I sat on the sideline holding my tongue rather than jumping into the thick of it, something I did out of fear of what others would think. I hope a student of any age can see from my time at Holderness that a true “Bull” can be intellectually curious and pursue that curiosity unapologetically. The only way the culture of curiosity can thrive is if we continue to be brave and make a conscious choice to dismantle the instances of apathy that exist today.