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Mission Statement for My Life

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It’s not exactly a new question. To me, and I’m sure to many others as well, just getting away from it would be enough of a challenge. “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” teachers surveyed on every first day of school I can remember. “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” my mom’s friends casually ask whenever the dinner conversation turns towards future plans and goals. Up until a couple years ago, I never really gave my response much thought—whatever answer I gave couldn’t be tested until I actually graduated school. When you’re a little kid, no one expects your answer to be realistic. “I want to be a princess” I said in kindergarten based off how happy the Disney ones always seemed. Upon realizing that America is a Democracy, in fourth grade my response was “I want to be the first female president” --thinking that that would be the next best thing. I didn’t want to be too unrealistic. Of course, I soon learned that being president isn’t at all like being a princess; in fact, its responsibilities sounded a lot more stressful than happy. Not being happy is the last thing anyone could want. Now at the ripe old age of fourteen, people expected serious answers. I could tell by the fact that even my friends, who’d known me for years, started asking. Now if you asked me, you’d most likely to hear me say “veterinarian” or “author” based off my passion for animals and writing. The more I think about it, the more I wonder how much more realistic my resolution has really become. What makes a goal so rational? What determines who I’ll become?

When you’re in kindergarten the world seems like the simplest place in the world. You have almost no responsibilities. Your mom wakes you up to go to “school”, which is pretty much synonymous for something to do while your parents are at work. I never found myself freaking out because we had ten math questions and two essays due the next day for homework, and I’d put it off until the last minute. The hardest things thing they made us do were things like reading two pages of a book called “animals.” It amazed me how someone could seem so impressed with a person simply for being able to read the single word “zebra” on a page dominated by a photo of the exact same creature. In kindergarten, relationships were easy. At recess everyone just played tag games with each other; or all the girls in the class would imagine we were fairies with different superpowers that went on adventures together. The worst thing I can remember happening is a boy in my class trying to impress me by having his GoGurt explode in my face. Good and bad could be easily defined. The bad people were those who did obviously criminal actions--such as Jafar trying to keep Aladdin from marrying Jasmine when they obviously liked each other a lot. The evil always got punished for their deeds—being cast away in a lantern for who knows how many years, while Jasmine and Aladdin live happily ever after; or having to clean blue goo off the wall while everyone else gave me pieces of their lunches as mine had been covered in yogurt. The decision to want to be like princess Jasmine wasn’t a difficult one.

Once fourth grade came around, it took longer to come up with my resolution. School became more challenging. I could now count on at least half an hour of homework a week as well as tests that needed to be studied for. Breaks, though still laden with imaginative games of adventure, could also be wrought with tension. Good and bad, I began to learn, wasn’t always so black and white. Everyone didn’t always get punished if they did something wrong. Whether people’s actions were really unlawful wasn’t all that mattered. There were gray areas. For all I knew, Aladdin didn’t really have Jasmine’s best interests at heart and Jafar had simply been trying to protect her. From this perspective, his imprisonment could have easily been unjust. As president, I wanted to make sure the country ran as fairly as I originally thought Aladdin had been to its characters.

Now if I were to tell you the world is simple, it’d be an outright lie. Not only is keeping up with my schoolwork a lot harder, but deciding how to do it. My English teacher is always encouraging me to read my work to the class—so it’s guaranteed that that my peers will judge it. If I tell her I don’t want to share, on several occasions my classmates have pressured me to read my work anyway saying I’m the “best writer in the class.” You’d think that’s a good thing—except I’m pretty sure two girls hate me because they wanted to be the “best writer.” It’s not like I told the other kids in the class to say I’m good at writing. There is no separation between what is good and bad. If there were, I’d know what to do in order for people not to be mad at me. I still have a lot to learn.

My best bet is to just do what I enjoy. There are bound to be people who disagree with me no matter what I do. If I became president, the stress of trying to keep everyone happy would keep me from enjoying life. Nothing is ever going to be completely fair, because bad and good are not black and white. Life and experience have taught me that. If I were to make a mission statement for my life, I’d say that I want to aim to do my best to learn as much as I can, and in the meantime, just do what feels right. I’ll always have a lot more to learn. If I spend my life trying to please everyone, it won’t have been happy. The question of who you want to be in life might not be a new one, but I don’t think I, or anyone for that matter, should try to stop answering it.



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