This essay, by Nicholas from Rampart High School, is one of the top five finalists for our scholarship. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below this post!
Each home has a specific scent, from the allures of vanilla candles to the comfort of calming pine trees. But my homes are a little different. When I think of home, I envision the sweet fragrance of a Nebraska morning or the drying sensation of New Mexico sand. Because, home hasn’t been a place for me, it’s been a journey. Every few years, I have accepted the same fateful consequences of being a military kid. I’ve forgotten the comfort of a constant or the safety of monotony. My life has consisted of an uphill battle of forgotten smiles and long lost goodbyes. Until, I moved to Colorado Springs. The sun smiled over the mountains and the people laughed with joy; Colorado became the only home I had ever known, the only place I had felt safe enough to love. Every morning felt like a soft hello from God, as the mountains shined with heavenly consent and a welcoming warmth. I had never been much of a hiker before; I never really had the opportunity. But the Colorado air filled my lungs with the thrill of potential and awe-inspiring dreams. The mountains called my name and I gladly answered. I remember the morning I woke up.
I remember the morning I would climb Pikes Peak. My friends and I started hiking before dawn and ended after dusk. The initial hike through the forest was peaceful, beautiful, inviting. But as I passed the tree line and my eyes opened to the distance I still had to travel, my feet grew heavy with doubt. Each step became a burden and each triumph was soon diminished by the weight of impatience. The last stretch of bouldering was the hardest experience of my life, or so I thought in the moment. My hands ached and my body slowed. But I’ll never forget the moment I reached that peak and the thin air painfully whipped over my face. It was exhilarating. It was beautiful. It was worth it.
Colorado Springs is still tirelessly hiking towards its peak. Aesthetic beauty does not parallel the inherent composition of Colorado mindsets. Colorado Springs is not just the desirable destination but part of a hike towards a necessary realization. In the city with one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, I understand its ignorance. In a city who refuses to hear the voices crying out for help until they no longer can speak, I recognize how far behind we are. I have felt the longing for someone to care or to understand. I have felt the binding constraints of fear and irrationality, the appeal of pessimism and disintegrating morality. I forgot what it meant to be whole, to understand the possibility of positivity, the strength of self motivations. I was searching for an activist to change these mindsets. Now, I set out to be just that. Suicide is the word that everyone knows but refuses to acknowledge. Well, I’m tired of silence. I refuse to let my story hide under the darkness of inconvenience. I am proud of Colorado Springs, of how far we’ve come. But, in this world who ignores the stories of those who have lost their voice, lost their life, I refuse to remain silent. I have a story, I have a voice, and people will hear what I have to say. I am standing at the peak of possibility and I am waiting, hoping, fighting for Colorado Springs to keep on climbing.