Grit: ‘No pressure, no diamonds’

Nick Ferguson, Staff Writer

My first day of school freshman year, I wore cargo shorts and a plain gray tee shirt with nothing but a small, discrete Nike swoosh on the left shoulder. I wanted to blend in with the crowd. I worried about jocks who would slap my lunch tray down for a laugh. I worried about the mean, senior girls who would laugh at me when I wandered aimlessly or ran in the hallway. I was worried about everything DGN is not. It is not a place to avoid failure; it is actually the best place for a kid to experience it.

I felt like a misfit my freshman year, so I joined an extracurricular activity in hope of finding my place in this big school. That place, for the next four years, was on the wrestling team. I joined for two reasons: I thought it would be easy because I am strong for my size and I also thought I’d learn how to beat up all my friends. I was right about the second part.

My first day of practice is when I lost my naivety because I found out the truth; wrestling is not easy. As a freshman I was not tough or confident enough to handle that kind of commitment. I was still a little kid in the sense that I didn’t do a whole lot for myself, I always had people there to help me out. This was the first thing I had to do on my own; I had no idea that I’d spend three months in purgatory once a year. The only reason I don’t call wrestling season hell is that the season isn’t eternal, although it felt like that sometimes. Now you must be thinking: wow, this is quite morbid, when was the change for the better?

This change did not happen overnight, it happened after a lot of extra workouts and summer camps, but I started to feel the improvement with consistent work. I went from insecure to supremely confident. Now I am finished with wrestling. I wasn’t a superstar and I didn’t gain many impressive accolades, but what I did gain was an understanding of grit. Grit is recognizing that the keys to success are deliberation and effort. If you can keep your focus and try with every fiber of your being to accomplish what you set out to do, it will happen. My freshman year self was the kid who got pinned in front of his crush, then went home and cried about it in the garage so my parents wouldn’t hear me. My senior year self was the solo team captain. (Who, on Senior Night, electrified his home gym in front of all his friends by pinning his opponent in 31 seconds.) My experiences with wrestling gave me the resolve of character to take on new challenges that I used to shy away from.

Next year I will be attending The Ohio State University. There I will start directly in the Business school and a be part of the Scholars program as a freshman. Without wrestling, my appetite for life would be a fraction of what it is today.
What DGN provides is a safe place to fail. Though I chose the hard way, through one of the most grueling sports known to mankind, it will be different for you. You will find your own path with your own challenges. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and don’t be afraid to fall on your face, because that is when character is built. So, please, do not be a part of the forever-apathetic portion of our generation. There are so many opportunities for an individual to grow here and no matter what road you travel, it will get you to where you want be.