Sam Bellet '15 Addresses the Freshmen at the Annual Patch Ceremony
Hello, my name is Sam Bellet, and after attending MBA for six years now, I’d like to share with you some advice I wish I had received when I was sitting where you are today. Two of the biggest challenges you will encounter at MBA are keeping a sense of identity and being confident in your character. You probably won’t encounter these challenges in some huge event in your life. These struggles will most likely come in the form of little everyday setbacks. My goal today is to prepare you for these situations. The next four years of your life will be the most important in determining who you are. Again, the forming of who you are won’t come in one fell swoop, it will come little by little, but you should still keep in mind that even the smallest decisions in your everyday life can add up and form who you will be.
Most of you are well grounded in regard to character; you wouldn’t be at MBA if this were not the case. One of your biggest challenges won’t be knowing what’s right or what’s wrong; it will be gathering the confidence to do what’s right. You all have a strong moral compass but that doesn’t mean you will not be tempted in your day-to-day life. When you are faced with situations where you have to make a choice, the biggest deception you need to watch out for is the idea that your friends want you to act one way or another. Right now you are, maybe without even knowing it, trying to figure out what’s acceptable in the eyes of your friends. What I came to terms with throughout high school is that these guys aren’t watching you to see whether or not you are cool, they are watching you because they want to know how they should act. Friends subconsciously set standards for each other, and the moment someone does something stupid, that action lowers the standard for what is ok to do. So basically, don’t think that your friends are constantly rating you on a scale of one to cool. Be mindful that your actions have just as much of an effect on them as theirs do on you. Be confident in your character and don’t be afraid to act the way you should. All of you probably know Cole Euverard, some of you may know him as the quarterback, or that guy on the high-five a microbe video. Well, Cole is probably one of the most likeable guys in our grade. Probably anyone in our grade you ask will say that they love Cole. And the most remarkable thing about Cole’s popularity is that he is simultaneously one of the most virtuous people in our class. Cole is a living example of someone who is well-loved simply because he is confident in who he is and will never compromise his character for anything in the world. He doesn’t have to prove he’s cool by going to parties or doing stupid stuff, people just respect him for who he is because he’s proud of it.
The second danger in high school is the thinking that everyone around you goes through life with no trouble at all and any mistakes they make don’t faze them. If you get discouraged during high school, which you will, realize that your friends go through the exact same difficulties in their life. The true men here at MBA are those who realize that, when they are discouraged, the easy way out is not always the correct way. Last December, after losing ten pounds and a bunch of wrestling matches, I went into the doctor and discovered I have type 1 diabetes. Luckily, I had received the same advice I just gave you, and I did not let this get me down. I was able to recognize that, although maybe in different ways, other people have problems just as bad as mine. What separates each one of us is how we deal with these problems, and those who get caught up in how bad they have it will be the ones who fail. So ,whenever you feel like maybe you should just lay down and give up, keep in mind these words from Dale Carnegie: “Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” Just remember that your problems will make you stronger as soon as you realize that these setbacks are nothing but setbacks.
Lastly, I want to express to you guys the importance of identity, especially at a place like MBA. When I first came here, I was following in the footsteps of my five older brothers. This was very irritating for me because everyone I met who knew of my brothers immediately placed me in this category of the “Catholic wrestler.” Although I do not deny that I am both of these things, I remember being so upset that people didn’t think twice about who I was after I told them that I was a Bellet, because, if you know my family well, you know that all of us are so much different from each other. As I progressed through MBA, though, I realized that identity is not so much about what other people think you are as it is about what you know you are. I encourage you never to settle for what people call you or presume you to be. You determine that for yourself. This doesn’t mean that you have to get up at assembly one day and announce to everybody who you are, it just means that you should live your life as you, not as somebody else’s perception of you. As a senior, I still encounter this temptation to change the way I do things in order to look more like something I am not. Thankfully, I get sick of putting on an act like that very quickly because you can’t be comfortable constantly making sure you appear to be somebody you are not. Be resilient in your day-to-day life, focusing less on your setbacks and more on solutions, and soon enough, you will be confident in living life as yourself, and people will begin to respect you for who you are. The more you block out discouragement, the easier being yourself will be. While living in this way, you should also help others to do so and recognize those in your class for who they are. When you walk out of this building with your patches on, look around and see that others are wearing patches too. Others have difficulties they are encountering, others are forming their identity, and others are going through MBA, just like you. So I want to challenge you to try and recognize each one of your classmates for who they truly are. Most of the classes before you did not really have a sense of unity until senior year came around because, until then, nobody realizes what I’m telling you now. So, if you ever catch yourself assuming that one of your classmates fits some category of people, clear that idea from your mind and really try to get to know him.