Finding satisfaction through the silent hustle

Brooklyn Northcross '20, Supervising Editor

My days at Grosse Pointe South were, hands-down, the best time of my life. From the first day of freshman year, I knew this school would be everything I hoped and wished it would. The students whom I have encountered in the past three and a half years have been nothing but friendly, supportive and all-around great people. Every single staff member has encouraged me and believed in me, making me the confident woman I am today. I am so grateful to have experienced the beautiful, healthy culture that defines the illustrious Grosse Pointe South.
Now is probably a good time to say I’m kidding.
While many seniors are overwhelmed with these feelings of nostalgia as they reminisce about their high school experience, I wish I could say I feel the same. But I have never been more excited to leave something behind.
Since the beginning of freshman year, it was clear everything was a competition. And with competition comes the desire to prove yourself. In an effort to do exactly that, I worked hard and excelled in class. Yet, my accomplishments were countered with shock, rather than notions of praise from staff and students. I never dealt with this problem outside of Grosse Pointe, and I can confidently say this was because of the color of my skin.
The deeply-rooted prejudice in this community pushed me into a corner of insecurity. It caused me to feel like I was undeserving of everything that I always believed I deserved. But it also caused me to realize the only person I had something to prove to was myself. I wasted so much of my life trying to appease others, expending my energy to put the wants and needs of others before myself. I don’t need others to validate my self worth so it was time my actions proved that. With this new mindset, I tried a new approach.
“Hustle in silence and let your success make the noise.”
If others wanted to undermine my capability, it was none of my business. I kept everything to myself: every grade, every award, every accomplishment. And it worked. I was no longer comparing myself to others. I attained a sense of peace and freedom that I never experienced before. I focused on myself and nobody questioned my competence.
After doing this for the rest of high school, it became a part of me. But eventually, it reached a point where I was scared to tell people where I was going to college. I worked hard for four years, but I was still nervous to let my success inevitably “make the noise.” Suddenly, I cared what everybody thought about me again. I felt ashamed telling people I achieved my goals, fearful that others would think that I didn’t deserve it.
I was exactly right. When word got around that I was going to Princeton University, affirmative action instantly became everyone’s favorite word. Even one student told my friend they were “surprised a SJW (social justice warrior) got into Princeton.” I became insecure about things I didn’t even know I should be insecure about.
Though, there were also many exceptions to my time at South. I’m so grateful for my amazing friends who encouraged me to keep my head up and be proud of myself, and my teachers, who unconditionally supported me, know who they are, and there is no way I could thank them enough. With this amazing support system, I realized that I achieved my goal. I proved to myself that I was good enough, I get to attend my dream school and I let my success make the noise.
I hated my time here because it forced me to spend four years being ashamed of my accomplishments. Yet, I don’t regret letting myself “hustle in silence.” It taught me how to do things for myself and myself only, not for the sake of impressing others. It taught me how to be humble and increase my personal drive toward success. I can now appreciate my self worth and confidently know that I don’t have to live up to anyone’s ideal except my own. If others don’t believe in you, let your prosperity speak for itself, but don’t let them strip your confidence like I let them do to me.