Yesterday marked my final Ohio Destination Imagination Region 14 Competition ever. My team walked away with a Renaissance Award for an outstanding soundtrack composed and mixed by our very own Matthew Terry and a First Place trophy. After 7 years with the team and many more than 7 years participating in DI, I had a lot to think about while I drove home last night, but one big thing came to mind:

I thought about the people that told me to quit.

From 6th grade up through freshman year I had a tough time deciding whether or not to continue with DI each year. It wasn’t because I lost interest or didn’t like my team, but instead it was because I took what others said very hard. And boy, they had a lot to say:

  1. DI is for the “weird kids”.
  2. You’re “too old” for that kind of thing.
  3. What even is it? It sounds stupid/gay/dumb/weird/etc.
  4. It won’t ever help you get into college.
  5. How did your “Destination Fag-ination” competition go?
  6. You get the idea, but

I also thought about how they were all wrong.

I didn’t end up quitting Destination Imagination. Instead, I fueled myself with what those other people said. Now I can say:

  1. I went to Destination Imagination Global Finals five times.
  2. I placed second, third, fourth, seventh, and ninth in the world in something that I love to do.
  3. I met people from China, South Korea, Qatar, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, all parts of Canada, England, Guatemala, and about 30 different states.
  4. I will be applying for thousands of dollars in DI scholarships and the chance to be ValeDIctorian.
  5. I inspired young DIers, including my sister, to do better than they thought they could.
  6. I have this picture now diteamonstage
  7. I had a room with hundreds of people watch me perform – twice.
  8. I met six of my best friends in the whole world.

My story probably isn’t unlike some of your own. I want to encourage you, if you’re reading this to continue doing what you love to do. Words can hurt a lot and they can make you question if what you’re doing is okay, acceptable, or normal. I challenge you to stick with what you love doing, regardless of what others might think, and to encourage and help others do what they love, rather than tear them down. There’s a lot of haters in the world, but you only have one life – you might as well live it well.

God Bless,



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