A person can't choose their name. Their title, their moniker, their identifier to the rest of the world, is completely beyond their control. Sometimes parents choose names that are unique and will separate their child from the Johns and Marys of society. Others look to more contemporary names to sound more professional when the child reaches adulthood. Regardless, the name choosing is the first example of the parent's influence over their child and sets the tone for what path they want their progeny to follow. For me, I had a mother who wanted a child immersed in her own religion. She named me Christian in the hopes that people would hear it and automatically know the values of the household that I came from. She probably hoped that I would grow to inherit the same passion for Christianity that she had. She didn't know that I would lose my belief in her religion and that my name would actually become a constant reminder of her influence. My high school career has been one of constant turmoil and problems. Events beyond my control have clashed with my own shortcomings and created a less than ideal workplace for me. These setbacks caused me to doubt myself, and by extension, the things that I once believed in. I have always had to contend with the nagging suspicion that I didn't belong. It's a natural by-product of being shifted between predominantly white and predominantly black schools. After spending so much time adjusting to one culture and finally being accepted, I was cast out and thrust into another. The predominantly black schools were much less forgiving, however, and I spent most of my first two years of high school either being bullied or ignored. I was that smart nerd who didn't know how to be black. Eager for attention, I lowered my academic skills so that I would seem only slightly smarter than most of my classmates, and became just as lazy trying to emulate the so-called cool guys. I diminished my own light so that they would not feel insecure around me. My grades started to slip along with my self-esteem. This would slightly change as I found the guy who would grow into my best friend. We both realized that we had potential far greater than our surroundings indicated and that we would have to leave if we wanted to grasp it. Our junior year, we left for Ravenscroft. We found a great group of friends that knew how to juggle popularity and schoolwork at the same time. But we still could not get that comfortable life we were hoping for. With Ravenscroft came more pressure from all sides. The workload was more than three times as much as I had ever experienced. I also had to contend with the stress of being that child in the family who goes to the college prep school. Every relative was so proud of me. My grandmother loved bragging to anyone who would listen about her genius grandbaby. My mom always made it a point to bring up the school's tuition costs and how I can't afford to waste this opportunity. Through all this, I managed to persevere for some time and was starting to feel successful. It was only when my father died of cancer on my best friend's birthday did I began to crack under the weight the world had placed on me. To make matters worse, I soon developed debilitating chest pains that occurred out of nowhere and that the doctors still have no explanation for. I was tired of being hit with wave after wave of punishments. I stopped going to church, and loss faith in the notion of a merciful God. This left me a shell for many months, but I was able to put up a front that noone but my best friend could see past. Fortunately, change was coming. On my seventeenth birthday, I was attending the Lightner Y- Achievers Teen Summit. There, I bore witness to one of my friends, only nineteen at the time, give the most powerful sermon I had ever heard. Seeing other teenagers in the audience, nerds and cool guys alike, standing up to praise God reaffirmed my belief and made me proud of my name.