The Interview This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     "So, what are you going to be?" What am I gonna be? I wanna yell at her, "Nothing!" I won't be anything. My profession won't define my life. I'll be kind, or intimidating, or dainty or childish, but I won't be a teacher, though I may teach. I won't be a doctor, yet I may practice medicine. Nevertheless, I answer predictably, politely, "Hmm, I'm not sure. Maybe a psychologist." I smile and she nods approvingly.

It used to make so much sense to me, the pattern. Nursery school: You learn to fingerpaint and make noodle necklaces, in the process learning to share. Elementary school: You learn how to write in cursive and memorize the times tables. You begin to learn how to express yourself through words. Middle school: Algebra and how to write a five-paragraph essay. While struggling to be just like everyone else, you're told to be unique. And then high school: Congratulations! You've made it this far. Now you have the privilege of being at the stage of life where you're told to be like everyone else as you strive to find yourself through piercings and hair color mistakes. Fifty-five-year-olds with PhDs attempt to analyze you and tell you what you are. To the pages and pages explaining to me what I'm going through, I want to scream, "Here's what I am. I'm an individual, I'm smart and sexy sometimes and mad and b****y at others. And, I'll tell you what I'm not. I am not 306 pages of analysis." So through the days of bad skin, painful body image and daily life, I move. Sometimes I act like a statistic, and sometimes I blow those numbers out of the water.

I look ahead and the pattern continues. I see my life acted out by thousands who went before me: College, graduate school, work, a few serious boyfriends, marriage, three kids, an apartment in the city and a small house by the beach. I used to be content with that future. I used to expect that I would, no questions asked, tread that road. Lately, though, as I've been taking the requisite trips to colleges and feeling the weight of teenagedom on my shoulders, I've wondered, Why? Why should I? Why should I get up tomorrow? Why should I study for that test? Why should I apply to college? Why should I act appropriately? Why?

"But I guess somewhere along the way, I just want to be happy," I add to my answer, and she smiles again. Once I say it, I realize it is true. I am a simple girl. I'm the girl who planned her entire life around her first boyfriend. I'm the one who stands in front of the mirror dissecting her body. I'm the one who plans to be rich in order to be content. And I laugh at myself for the drama queen and typical teenager I can be. Happy. It's so simple - and so worth it.

And I begin to see the pattern as less of a pattern and more of a way to travel.

And I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel brighten. And the question marks blur into distinct colors but not definite pictures of what things will be like. And I realize that this is the way to go through life: Understand that you are following the steps of those before you, but understand that you are creating your own footprints.

And that's why I should get up, to make the footprints for those behind me. Because even though they too will experience the utter hypocrisy in writing an essay that "works," hopefully they'll see that there is a point to it all. And that point is apparent in every minute of every day, not some moment in the unforeseeable future. So you know what I'll be? You know what I'll be right at this moment? I'll be happy.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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