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A Fear and a Cure

I’ve spent most of my waking hours afraid of a seven letter word: college. Truth be told, I will admit that perhaps I am a semi-neurotic person who is inclined to crumple into a pathetic ball of stress before taking exams and is a bit obsessive-compulsive about her science binder being green and her math binder red. My fear does not exactly stem from college itself, although between the infamous freshman fifteen and the thought of doing my own laundry I suspect that my worries are not outrageously unreasonable. Rather, I’ve spent all this time worrying about the process leading up to college- the report cards and the standardized tests of torture and the applications where we try our very best to sell ourselves like products, like those grating, repetitive infomercials on TV. But at times I’ve felt the heaviness of this seven letter word almost like a physical weight, like an invisible anvil on my back as I hopelessly try to memorize another chemical equation, another hieroglyphic-looking math formula. And high school sometimes seems like a factory, an assembly line that produces little robots that are programmed to get into college, that do everything just to get into college. I stopped recently and took a break from my own mechanical routine and thought about how ridiculous this all was.

Getting into a good school is important, no doubt. It would be nice to have car insurance and a trim, multi-bedroom house in heavenly suburbia. But I think we all get a little too caught up in the future. I certainly do, as I spent the past year rushing around trying to find an extracurricular activity here and a volunteer opportunity there all while trying to keep up with classes and pretending that a social life wasn’t all that important. And my lifetime experience and wisdom sure is limited, but I think I’ve been pretty confused when it comes to my priorities.

Because while I don’t think it’s wrong at all to worry about school or focus on getting into a top-choice college, it’s also not right to let these goals get in the way of everything else. My parents have often sat me down at the kitchen table, the place where typically I am informed of tragic, serious things such as the cat going to a better place, and spoken of this mystical thing called “the big picture”. Clearly I have experienced some difficulty when it comes to seeing the big picture, but what I’ve deduced is this: maybe my grade on that history test or my math score on the SAT will affect me in the long run, but that won’t be what I choose to remember. I’ll want to remember that time my grandpa told me a story over super-sweetened coffee, those really wonderful pains you get in your stomach when your friends make you laugh too hard. I don’t think we should worry so much we forget to be thankful and forget to be happy, and I don’t think we should let the things we want make us forget about the things we have.

Besides, there will be much more time to sit around worrying once we’re adults and have to pay taxes and rent.





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