Ever since I was in middle school, I had heard from countless people that Chattahoochee High School's Science Olympiad team was one of the best in the state. Thus, it had been a goal of mine ever since seventh grade to join despite not knowing much about it.

My lack of knowledge coupled with the high esteem to which it was held up allowed me to daydream about what I would do when I got there. I became entranced with the vision of myself in a lab coat using a microscope while swirling various chemicals in a flask. I imagined myself winning medals in various tournaments and becoming part of a giant, inclusive friend group. And since I had decent grades in my science classes, I believed I'd do well and rise to the top of the ranks fairly quickly. All of these dreams slowly turned into expectations about what Science Olympiad would be like in high school.

When the first meeting of the year for Chattahoochee's Science Olympiad team actually came, I walked through the door filled with high hopes and excitement. I had planned weeks ahead and sent countless reminders to myself not to miss this fateful day where my dreams would finally culminate into reality. I giddily took a seat and looked eagerly around the room that I had imagined myself learning in for most of my middle school life.

Immediately, I noticed that things were different than what I had imagined. The room was practically overflowing with people. Old friends were already saying hi to each other and forming little groups and cliques where I could hear conversations I could hardly understand. I realized that I'd have to try a lot harder than I originally thought to make a name for myself in this immense swarm. And lost in that sea of people, I began to think I'd never find a friend or someone I could talk to.

Over the course of the meeting, I felt myself getting progressively more discouraged by the minute. The Science Olympiad events focused on topics I had never even touched on in school. As I looked around the room, I could hear people studying subjects and terms I knew practically nothing about. I became desperate. I told myself that I could never succeed when I was the only one in the room who didn't know what they were doing. Thoughts began to nag at my brain telling me to give up or that I wasn't good enough.

I left that first meeting feeling dejected, crushed and hopeless. I half-heartedly picked a few events to sign up for. However, I mostly wallowed in self-pity as I lamented the unfairness of the world around me. My dreams of swirling chemicals had all been dissipated by the cold, hard reality of that Science Olympiad meeting.

For the first time, I couldn't envision myself doing anything since I was so uncertain about what I would do. That entire week leading up to tryouts, I debated back and forth in my head as to whether I should join Science Olympiad. I was so afraid of doing badly and trying something new that I made myself believe it wasn't worth the effort.

However, as I was considering quitting, I got a familiar sense of deja vu. Running away from something new was a familiar pattern I had done all throughout my life. I realized I had lost so many potential opportunities by giving up because I was too afraid to take chances. I had rejected Science Olympiad simply because it was something out of my comfort zone. I was scared because I'd actually have to put in effort to do well.

As reasons why I shouldn't quit Science Olympiad began to pile up in my head, I began to see how pitiful or wasteful it would be to resign without even giving it a chance. My fears of novelty and failure that had seemed unconquerable now felt smaller. I didn't have anything to lose from trying if I learned to embrace my mistakes and improve through dedication.

So for once in my life, I took a leap of faith. I opened a wiki page and started studying.

Now, a few months later, I couldn't be more grateful that I persevered through my uncertainty. As I've put in more effort, I've been rewarded with more results and improvements in my performance. I've enjoyed most of the tournaments I've been to and have had a blast doing my events. Now, I'm ending the season with three bronze medals and a silver from regionals, and I can't wait to do even better next year.

Science Olympiad has taught me so many things about myself and how to improve. However, the most important lesson it has taught me is to never to let go of something different when I haven't even given my best effort yet. Now, I'm a lot happier doing Science Olympiad and trying new activities. And as I've actually had to work for my success, my achievements feel so much greater and more substantial.

As a result, I do too.