My teammate Kalley Armstrong (Army) recently wrote a blog about me and my roommate, Marissa Gedman. It inspired me to want to start blogging again so here I am, finally sitting down and putting my thoughts on paper. When I first sat down at my computer this morning, I struggled to think of something to write about. Mostly because there is simply so much I could write about. I’m about to begin my final semester of college. I have a million things I could say and reflect upon. How can I possibly choose just one? Well, because it’s so difficult, I’m going to really make an effort to blog a lot more throughout my senior spring. The goal will be to reflect and share my stories from my college experience before I graduate and the memories begin to fade. But first, I think I want to write about the people who have made the memories possible: my parents.
Now, I’ll begin this by saying that of course there a ton of people who have played a variety of important roles in my life, but no one has experienced the challenges and joys of my journey like my family has. I once asked my dad if he ever in a million years thought that I would be going to Harvard. His answer actually surprised me. He said something like, “You’ll realize this when you have kids, but the second your child is born, you think they’re going to be the President of the United States someday.” I always thought that was a really cool way to view things, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized it was that mentality that my parents had that helped me get where I am today. Growing up, I rarely doubted whether or not I would get what I wanted in life because I had been trained to believe that I was capable of anything and everything.
That isn’t to say that the road was always a smooth one. My parents and I have had our disagreements. Everybody does with his or her parents at some point. But I’ve realized that a really cool part of growing up is getting to reflect back on those challenges and recognizing that every fight I’ve ever had with my parents was born purely out of their love for me and my brother. My dad always says that when someone you love is upsetting you or doing something you disagree with, those are the moments that you hug them that much tighter. It isn’t always easy to do that, but it was that mentality that got me through some really challenging times when I was making decisions that were not going to get me any of the things that I had been dreaming about my entire life. I remember those times often and make sure to constantly hug my parents as tightly as they hugged me even when I probably didn’t deserve it.
Another amazing thing I learned about my parents is their philosophy on raising children. Last year when I was taking the year off from Harvard to play on the Olympic team, my Harvard teammate/ roommate, Marissa, wanted to interview my family for a project that she was doing for school. She asked them what they felt was the number one reason for their success as parents and their answer was simply, involvement. My parents had been together for over 10 years before they finally got married and their reason for tying the knot was that they both felt ready to have children. The main thing that they agreed on was that after they had kids, their world was going to revolve entirely around their children. I’ve always known this, but when they answered Marissa’s question, I thought it was interesting because my dad said, “I wanted to be fully involved in my kids’ lives because that’s how my parents raised me.” My mom however, said that she wanted to be involved in her kids’ lives because she didn’t grow up with that kind of support, particularly from her dad. Don’t get me wrong, my mom loved and always did love her dad, but sadly it took him until much later in his life to realize that family is the most precious gift this life has to offer. Fortunately for me, I was able to know him during the later years and I will always remember him as the kind, caring and loving grandfather who would have done anything for me. Anyway, the reason I say all of this is that my mom made a choice. She recognized something in her life that she wanted to be different for her kids and so she changed it. Not only am I thankful that she made that decision, but I learned that day that no matter what, no matter when, you can make a difference in your life and the lives of others.
There are a million other things I could write about my parents, but then I’d be here all day. I could talk about my dad’s creativity or my mom’s selfless heart. I could talk about all that they do on a daily basis to inspire me to be a better person. But I think instead, I’ll end by talking about the most important thing my parents have ever taught me: family first. No matter what I do, no matter where I go, no matter what mistakes I make or successes I have, my family will always be there for me. That’s not to say that other people won’t be a significant part of my life, but there is nothing more eternal than family in my household. And for that, I am so so so incredibly grateful. My world revolves around Team Fry and our success as a group. We are each other’s biggest fans and we push one another to be our best. Without Team Fry, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have been able to accomplish more than I ever believed to be possible because they were there for me. So today, I hope you remember that no matter what, family first.