Simple Smiles: Damon Berry
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Within the walls of North Penn, over 3,000 students are each layered with different stories, religions, and environmental influences which have shaped the person that they are. When thinking of senior Damon Berry, one may just see a football player, but under his football jacket are the layers which tells his story. Throughout his life he has lived in multiple environments, playing a role in the formation of his positive outlook on life and influence on others.
“Growing up and moving so much actually helped instead of hurt. Adjusting to different environments taught me not to judge people for who they are or where they come from because I’ve lived through and seen it all basically. A lot of people don’t like the fact that they move around a lot and meet all these different people, but I think it helped. It was hard at first, but you get used to it because I’ve moved a lot and been to a lot of schools,” said Berry.
After moving from Philadelphia to Norristown, Berry wound up in the North Penn School District his freshman year. Although he did not know anyone except his god-brother, senior Nick Dillon, he didn’t have trouble making friends, as he had to do it often in the past. His mother never turning her back on him, and his supportive family has taught him everything about what real friends are. He described the traits of a good friend as honest, dependable and supportive no matter the circumstance. At times, Berry could be looked at as the kid to keep to himself with headphones drowning out the rest of the school, but he found a circle of friends that express mutual thoughts about what a good friend is.
“Damon is someone who has a very big heart and he will put anyone in front of him to make sure they’re good. He’s a very loyal friend and has never switched up on me. I think he has been one of the best friends to me for the past few years.,” said senior Taylor Leber.
Berry had no trouble making friends because of his beliefs of equality and not judging others. As he adjusted to different environmental experiences in life, he has met many different people, and they have taught him to be the person he is today. Though he makes a conscious effort to treat everyone equally because of his upbringing, he also believes honesty is the most important thing to life.
“Honesty is very important to me, that’s like my number one thing. I don’t feel there is a need to lie when you live your life right. If you’re just living your life trying to have fun, what is there to lie about. My mom never taught me that lying is okay, she always taught me to stay true,” said Berry.
Not just looking at people from the outer surface, but seeing them stay true to themselves on the inside is something else that influences Berry. After self examining his life and past decisions, Berry decided to make a change in senior year because it’s a part of his life that he can’t redo. He found himself focused more on his environment rather than just focusing on himself. This change of self-positivity is how he brings smiles to other faces in the hall everyday.
“I feel like I was just too focused on the wrong things, and saw how negative I was looking at other things, and how many opportunities I missed by doing that. Life’s too short to be negative because you never know what could happen. I feel like you’re just wasting time looking at things negatively. You could pass up opportunity by looking at things negatively, and always being in a bad mood.I’ve seen a lot of negative things and people, so senior year made me look at things differently, and I know there’s a lot of things to look forward to,” said Berry.
The positive outlook Berry has on life fits perfectly with what he aspires to be, a pediatric nurse. Stumbling upon North Penn’s Child Development course, Berry has found a love for kids and wants to be a positive influence on their life.
“I’ve always liked little kids and in 10th grade year when I took Child development it opened my eyes that I could actually do this in the future. I work well with the kids, I plan out lessons for them and all these different things. It worked out well I get along with them and love spending time with them. I would love to go into a career where I could help little kids and pediatric nursing just fit well,” said Berry.
Besides kids, Berry has a need to assist others and give back to his community. He grew up planting trees, cleaning up trash, and volunteering in other community services, and has developed a love for helping others. Berry believes that the more he focuses on serving others and bettering himself, the better his life will be. With this thinking, his thought on religion is different from the ordinary.
“I’m not really religious, but I feel spiritual in a way. I can’t look at one religion and fully believe it because I honestly don’t know all the facts to any either. I wouldn’t say I’m atheist at all, I believe in something, I’m just not sure what. My goals in life to be happy, be comfortable with my living conditions, and enjoy myself,” said Berry.
While most high-schoolers try to be happy and enjoy the experience in high school, Berry has changed his life to revolve around the goal of happiness. With this goal in mind, he tries to avoid fake happiness and negativity. After reflecting on his life, Berry has identified the sources of negativity in his life and feels others wouldn’t have this issue if everyone stayed true to themselves.
“I feel like people try too hard to be somebody they are not. It doesn’t make sense to me. If people acted like themselves all the time they’d probably find some real genuine friends, but instead they put on these fake masks and act like people they aren’t. This leads to the negativity and missed opportunities, these people could be living their lives way better. If people are stuck in one mind set that’s how it’s going to be, and I feel like I was stuck in that mindset. Sitting and looking at how things could have been I decided I wanted to change.”
Change has been a reoccurring theme in Berry’s life. On top of all of this change, one thing has stayed constant: the football player that everyone knows. At first, he didn’t play football when he moved to Philadelphia, but after moving to Norristown, he tried to play there. Not being able to play there, he played for Conshohocken, and fell in love with it ever since. He looked at football differently once he was in the North Penn School District, because he was playing for a high school team. It was harder, the competition was higher, and he felt it was even better for him.
More importantly to him, no matter how many times he moved, football always stayed the same. Football has always been the constant in his life, and college will be very different now that he will no longer have that constant. Berry will be attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the fall, but will not be out on the football field. After making a hard decision, he has positively changed his life this year, and this is one of the harder changes that he feels will be for the better.
“I don’t want to put myself in a situation where sports is going to take my full attention when I could be focusing on my major. I’m not going to say I’ll never play again because I still love it, but for the time being, I won’t be. I feel the way I look at things and the way I would put my full attention into football and have to walk on, while I could just focus on college academically,” said Berry.