NEVER too late This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   You know those obnoxious kidswho smack their gum in class and then stick it under their desks? Who spend thehour ignoring the teacher as they write notes to their 50 closest friends, andthe ones who, when they actually remember they're in school, embrace thisrevelation by mouthing off to the teacher? I used to be one of thosekids.

From kindergarten through eighth grade, I was one of the "smartkids," a goody-two-shoes perfectionist. I cried if I got a B, ran track, wasan alto in choir, played the French horn in the school band. Life wasgreat.

Then, the summer before high school, my parents announced that wewere moving. I hated them for that, and so the move brought more than just achange in location - it brought a change in attitude, too.

My first dayof high school I made sure I was late to all my classes. When teachers called meMelissa, I snottily told them I would respond only to Missy. I"overslept" every other morning so that I would miss the bus and get tostay home. When I got my first report card, it was filled with C's, D's and F's,along with comments from my teachers: "Attitude and attendance needimprovement" and, my favorite, "Student is not working up topotential."

You would think that would have motivated me to dobetter, but it only annoyed me. I knew I was smart, and obviously my teachersdid, too. Why did I need school? I was ready for the real world, and one day, inthe middle of fourth period, I stood up and left.

The next day, Iregretted my decision to drop out, but not enough to return. I was barely 17,with my own apartment (I had to have a roommate, of course, since I wasn't oldenough to be on the lease), and lots of bills to pay. Frequent arguments with myparents had forced me to move out, so with no parental supervision, I was free todo whatever I wanted - or at least what I thought I wanted.

The first weekwas fun. I partied all night with my older friends, and slept all day. Then I gotbored, so I decided I needed a second job. Two jobs were a lot to handle, though,so I quit my first job. I thought about returning to school from time to time,but couldn't think of any reason why I should. The real world wasn't so hard. Icouldn't figure out what adults were always complaining about.

Then Iturned 18. I hated my roommate, so I got an apartment of my own. The rent was alittle high, but I figured I'd be okay. After all, I knew everything. I wasliving in my new apartment, paying all my bills, working all day and partying allnight. Then, one day, I woke up hung-over and depressed. I wanted to call insick, but realized I couldn't pay my rent if I missed even one day.

Ihated my job, my friends and my life. I wanted to change things, but had no ideahow to get my old life back. I tried calling my parents, but they hung up on me.My friends told me I was thinking too much and I should get drunk. It was obviousthat I was going to have to change things alone.

That day, I bought aGED study book and signed up for the test. Instead of partying, I read aboutsolids and liquids and taught myself algebra. At times I missed my friends, but Irealized that if they were real friends, they would be helping me study insteadof laughing at my newfound desire to improve my life.

Finally, it wastime. I had studied for three months. There was just one problem - I had no car,and the college was ten miles away. Since the test was at 7 a.m., I knew none ofmy friends would take me. I tried calling my family once again.

"Hi... it's me, Melissa. I was wondering if you would do me a favor. I need a rideto the GED test." My mom just laughed and told me there was no need for meto waste my time, since I would just fail anyway. Then I called my dad's cellphone and convinced him to drive me.

Saturday morning came and Ioverslept. I awoke to the sound of my dad beating on my door. I threw on someclothes, determined to show him I was serious about this.

It's been ayear since that day. I passed the test with a 329, the equivalent of a 3.6 or 3.7GPA in a high school. I've changed my whole lifestyle and have a great boyfriendand friends who actually care about me. Every once in a while I call my parentsand they don't hang up on me. Nobody thought I could do it, but Idid.

Life still isn't easy, though. I plan on going to college, but a lotof my applications were rejected be-cause I have a GED instead of a diploma. I amapplying for all kinds of scholarships, but I'm disqualified for the same reason.My dream is to become a teacher so that I can get kids excited about learning,and, I hope, prevent them from making the mistakes I did.

Growing up, Iwas confused about my priorities. Now I know that education is what matters most,and nothing will stand in the way of my goals. You might think there are moreimportant things in life, but you know what? You can't have most of them withoutan education. Just wait - one day you might see me, a college graduate, teachingyour children!

Remember: it may be too late to take it all back, but it'snever too late to get it all back.

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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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

Fires said...
May 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm
Good Story!!!!
N.M.W.I.T.This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm
you are truly right it is never to late. Great story by the way.
aly-mack10 said...
Feb. 28, 2010 at 3:42 pm
Wow i love this story.. right now im wasting my time cuz i think school sucks but from now on im work hard and prove people i can do it..thank you!! =]
Amber K. said...
Nov. 7, 2009 at 4:30 pm
amazing =]
x0xKendallx0x* said...
Feb. 17, 2009 at 11:11 pm
This is a heartwarming story , i loved it .I will promise not to waste my life anymore.This is AMAZING and AWESOME.
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