Varsity Tutors Scholarship Winner

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Steven Pineda
San Luis Obispo, CA
March 2017

Ryan's Brother - Varsity Tutors Scholarship Essay

“You’re Ryan’s brother!”
Throughout my freshman year of high school, many people only knew me because of my association with my older brother, Ryan. Everyone, including my friends, loved him. He was a senior at the time. Initially, I felt proud that I was connected with someone so admired, talented, and respected. However, I entered high school feeling a weight on my shoulders. I felt obligated to achieve all of Ryan’s accomplishments. Burdened by my own expectations, I struggled to find my identity.
School is a monumental time for students. Throughout it, students mature, discover passions, and develop identities. Everyone has role models that they aspire to be like. However, people should never feel the need to be exactly like someone else. To a school-wide audience, I would share my life story to hopefully encourage students to see how every person is unique.
Ryan is three years older than me and will always be a person that I look up to greatly. In high school, he got straight A’s, finished with a GPA above 4.3, made many friends, and started on varsity basketball and baseball as a freshman. He was my role model. I always compared myself to him. I, too, wanted to successfully balance academics, athletics, and a social life. Attempting to be him, I didn’t recognize myself as a unique individual. With every shortcoming, I questioned my own abilities and thought to myself, “Ryan could do it. Why can’t you?” Therefore, I lacked true happiness and confidence.
I experienced my most significant failure during winter quarter of my freshman year. At Westview High School, winter time was basketball season. Like Ryan, I grew up playing basketball. We were surrounded by an athletic family. I loved basketball because of its fast pace, competitiveness, and camaraderie. Through this sport, I met most of my closest friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t perform well at tryouts. I still remember the exact moment when the coach said, “I’m sorry Steven, but you didn’t make the team.” My heart dropped. I felt embarrassment and disappointment, but this failure gave me a life-changing perspective.
Comforting me, my mom said, “It’s ok. You’re not Ryan and he’s not you.” I cannot express how much her advice positively changed my life. I finally realized that I didn’t need to be like my brother to succeed. With my new perspective, I focused solely on my potential, abilities, and success. I set reasonable goals and used failure as motivation.
I worked hard and went on to make my high school’s basketball team the next two years. However, I ultimately decided to stop during my junior year. This was a big decision, but I am so proud that I determined what was best for myself.
With more time to focus on myself, I began to appreciate my differences with Ryan. I didn’t worry anymore about copying his accomplishments. I spent time doing activities that made me happy.
First, I discovered an ability and enjoyment for art. Growing up, I always liked drawing and coloring. However, I never explored my abilities seriously. During my junior year, I took Drawing and Painting 1-2 and found that my patience, creativity, and attention to detail, were great skills for the class. I enjoyed it so much that I squeezed Drawing and Painting 3-4 into my senior year schedule. To my surprise, I did well with every medium: pencil, colored pencils, tempera paint, acrylic paint, water color, and charcoal. I entered two of my pieces into the San Diego Del Mar Fair and received 2 first-place ribbons. I find happiness in art because it teaches me more about myself and allows me to display my creativity without any constraints. My pieces always reflect my thoughts and feelings.
Also, I further explored and found a greater appreciation for tennis. Naturally shy, I struggled as a kid because I never voiced my opinions or tried new things. Tennis pushed me outside of my comfort zone because it required communication. Tennis taught me time management, responsibility, leadership, and teamwork. Although I am still not too outspoken, I am not afraid to talk in front of people anymore. Tennis will always be a huge part of my identity because it eliminated my insecurity and improved my confidence.
My whole life changed when I realized my individuality. I want everyone to know that others’ achievements are irrelevant to personal success. By following genuine passions and appreciating differences, one will experience more happiness.
It’s true that I will always be Ryan Pineda’s brother. More importantly, I know now that I am so much more than that. I’ve learned to be proud of the things that make me who I am today. I am someone who now knows why I am unique. I am an excellent student that will stay up late and do my best work on any assignment. I am a friend and family member that is always loyal and supportive. I am a talented athlete that loves competition. I am an artist and musician that uses drawing, painting, and playing piano to display my creativity and relieve stress.
I am Steven.