If there’s one thing we, as high school students, hear more than anything else, it’s the questions: So, where do you see yourself in a couple years? Or, What do you want to study when you graduate?
And if there’s one thing we feel more than anything, it’s overwhelming guilt when we are unable to come up with a solid answer to these questions.
You see, high school is the time to discover what you enjoy most. It’s the time for “personal adventure”.
Personal adventure can mean infinitely different things to different people. In fact, the words themselves only mean whatever you want them to.
Perhaps, for you, personal adventure could mean taking part in that annual March Break trip you’ve been hearing about for the past couple of years. Maybe it means standing up at Model UN or debating and speaking in front of a crowd. Or maybe it’s simply just raising your hand in class to make your ideas heard.
No matter what it means to you, high school offers you a unique chance to create your own little adventures. We won’t again be lucky enough to have so many opportunities placed in front of us while having so few responsibilities.
Because personal adventure is more than just enjoying the time we have here to the fullest. It’s more complicated than saying carpe diem. It presents the opportunity to discover not only what we actually want out of life, but why we want it and how we’ll get there.
There was a point in my high school career where I hadn’t realized the importance of these little adventures. In fact, I had planned my entire life out for the next two decades. That’s longer than any of us students have been alive.
In grade 2, I saw the movie Nim’s Island and decided that I wanted nothing more than to become a marine biologist. I was so sold on this idea that by the time I reached Middle School, I had a list of my top universities planned out. Then, grade 9 rolled around along with a year-long biology unit in science. I then realized how little I enjoyed the topic (sorry Ms. Commerford). So then, what was I supposed to do? These plans I had made to last a lifetime had suddenly fallen apart in a matter of months and I felt lost. Although we may feel confident in our own judgement, it’s impossible to know what we will enjoy before we have enjoyed it.
The thing I realized then is that excessive planning for your future takes an excessive amount of time; it leaves you with a one-track mind that is wholly closed off to new ideas and experiences.
The second I realized I no longer knew what I wanted to do was also the second I began to try new things. I signed up for every club, eager to see what I had been missing. I found a love for Model UN and politics, realized how much fun physics was and took every opportunity I was given to travel to new places.
When I was locked in to biology, I stopped myself from straying too far from it. Why waste my time doing things that won’t help my future career? And I’m not advocating for you to join a club to pad your resume. I’m asking you to not be defined by your future plans.
Because, in the end, that’s what high school is for. high school isn’t here for us to already know how our life is going to roll out for the next 20 or 30 years. High school is here for us to try new things, go on wild trips, meet new people and make life-changing memories.
So enjoy the time you have here. The future may seem infinitely brighter than the present but along the way there will be spots of darkness. And when you’re fighting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of those dark places, you must be able to look back and feel the warmth of the memories you forged to help you get through it, not the pressure of exhaustive plans that were born out of the illusion that they would save you.
To those who don’t know what you want to do in the future, you’re not alone. To those who do, I trust your judgement, and I know that you will find success and happiness in whatever you choose. – Emma Belhadfa ’18