Today my ninth-grade geography teacher handed me my college acceptance and rejection letters. It came in the form of a test. The grade I earn on it will determine my GPA, which will play a part in my admission to college, which will in turn determine the quality of my future.
To some the future seems too faraway to think about, but the fact is it is happening in the next second. I had studied, and happened to ace the test, but that did not stop me from thinking about how children are forever preparing for a fancy burial. It is a morbid thought, I realize, but true. The media surround us with handsome and intelligent entertainers who are granted admission to the Ivy League school of their choice. While balancing leisure activities and a none-too-extraordinary resume, you can assume this acceptance was taken with a bit of skepticism. Now, I haven't sold ten million albums or had a box-office hit, so I work to make up for those achievements. For the rest of us who aren't media gods and goddesses, our approach is different.
Where I want to be often clashes with what I want. Family and friends perpetually tell me I should enjoy life, while schools tell me they want a well-rounded Super Student. The world says I could end starvation. With all these voices in my head, one might declare me mad. The question is, whose voice should I listen to? The answer, my friend, is one's own. But keep this in mind: you need to have a salary that puts food in your mouth, a roof over your head, and clothing on your back.
You want to enjoy your youth, but how can you when it could could lead to mid-life mediocrity? The key to enjoying life now and later is finding a connection between what you like to do and what you want. If you have a solid idea of what you want to be, take part in activities that relate to that goal, even if you have to start your own club. Attend seminars, college enrichment classes, anything you can get your hands on, and you will meet others who share your interests. If you have no clue what you want, explore different areas and search for something that grabs your attention.
I am still 14. Most say I have all the time in the world, but I say each year is equal to a second, and each second should be considered as precious as a year. The world wants you to grow up fast, and while it is good to be a sophisticated young adult, teens shouldn't be senior citizens complaining about their backs. The world wants you to be 40, but what do you want? Live today as if it were your last day, and never cut yourself short of an opportunity.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.