Andre, a senior at OC Online at the time of this blog has a powerful story that challenges perceptions that online education is about “more screen time”. Instead, for Andre, joining OC Online was a logical next step in his ongoing journey to live with intention, both as a student and as a business owner. He even let go of video games!
Choosing OC Online
I came to OC Online for two reasons, the Christian education that was lacking in my life from my old school and that was very well provided here at Oaks, as well as to have a more flexible schedule for my business. Having my old school teach lessons on the patriarchy of the entire Bible, discrediting the Adam and Eve story, and telling us about how the serpent was right for “encouraging wisdom” was a massive threat that I faced in an environment of peers that I was not comfortable being around.
Experiencing OC Online
The environment that I find here at OC Online, despite its online nature, is significantly closer and more personal because of the common thread of faith and God that is so highly regarded and repeatedly preached. Having such a strong reliance on faith is absolutely what makes this program most interesting for me, and upon joining and experiencing it, it only over-delivered on my expectations.
Honestly, what surprised me most was the inclusive culture! I appreciate all the efforts that the staff makes to ensure that the High School experience doesn’t just fade away because it is online. And not only am I appreciative of it because I see the effort, but also because it works! I have a good time engaging in classrooms and completing assignments. I especially enjoy assignments where we have to reach out and collaborate with others; it brings a unique twist to the action of completing assignments. It feels like a family.
Before coming to OC Online Andre went through a transformational journey that may appeal to many teens who are looking to make changes.
Letting Go of Old Habits
My story of video games is quite a long one. It started when I didn’t have much access to any kind of games growing up – no console, no gaming PC, absolutely nothing other than mobile games and website games I secretly played because my parents didn’t want me to waste time. Looking back, I absolutely should have listened to them and taken the Bible’s teachings to obey my parents, but my younger self was stubborn…maybe I still am…but I still found a way to access them. Any time I could spare I played them, and eventually, as I got older more of my friends did the same, so my parents became more okay with it.
I played for hours on end, all of my breaks turning into a time-blur of me in front of a screen.
This was all until November 11th, 2022. This was the day when I had my epiphany and decided to do something large with my life, take initiative, and start my own business. I realized the sacrifices that it would entail, everything from cutting out things that don’t help me succeed such as bad influences, activities that wasted time, and excessive sleeping time. I slept at more reasonable hours, shortened the most minute details such as how much time I spent in the bathroom, and especially quit video games. I admittedly tried developing my business while still playing, but shortly realized that after I play one game, I want to play another, and another, and the cycle never stops.
So I gave myself an ultimatum: my success or video games.
This is how I brought myself to finally quit, and I have never touched them since. My dedication to a pursuit that I found purpose in, my business, allowed me to collect enough strength to put aside video games and make a true change in my life.
Taking on New Habits
A disciplined life was something that I had to develop over time; this wasn’t something I woke up with one morning and implemented. I first started with waking up at the same time every morning. This was a tough task, as I am a deep sleeper so I did everything I could for months, trying to solve this problem. I put my phone alarm 10 steps from my bed, installed apps where I had to take a picture of my kitchen sink to turn it off, and even at one point used two alarms…maybe that was too much. But I still tried and took the same approach to everything I did. I organized my nutrition, consistently went to the gym, and developed a morning routine which I called my “Daily Pillars.” All these tremendously helped me get more efficient with my work, but more importantly more in tune with my life, as every action became intentional rather than a repetition of old habits. Reading the Bible daily and praying on it was a great help, as my favorite book, Proverbs, had concise yet compact knowledge on what ways I can live life through perspectives that aligned with God’s values. This not only spiritually aligned me with a moral good, but also made my relationship with God much more personal. My faith developed alongside my self-development, making my holistic pursuit of self-improvement one that covered all the bases of my life. I was more fulfilled, which is a feeling that I strongly lacked with such cheap sources of dopamine from fast food, TV, social media, and in my case, video games.
For me, I have college next, but that is by no means my end goal. I have the ultimate life goal of helping as many people as I possibly can. And while this may seem like a cliche, I genuinely intend to do so with all the gifts that I was fortunate to receive from God in my skills. I hope to be able to find multiple businesses, from which I would dedicate my earnings towards projects of philanthropy to help reform the education system. Ideally, I would start with building schools in underprivileged countries, and then provide new ways in which the education system can function to better fit the adapting societies that we have. All of this comes from a heart of service, not one of pure greed or ambition. While these are ambitious pursuits, I do this with the hope of leaving a larger dent in positive impact on this earth before I leave and providing for those that I love in the best way possible.
A piece of advice I would give is if it feels wrong, it probably is. Everybody knows when they are doing things they shouldn’t be doing, but oftentimes they just do it anyway because either it is such a habit that it is fused into their routines, or they don’t want to put in the effort to change.
Change requires effort.
This is so important to internalize, as without it nobody can change. Pray to God, ask him for guidance in your pursuit to become a better person, and watch with your consistent will to improve with intentional action, results will come. So be patient, and dedicated to the end goal, and allow God to hold your hand through the entire process.