I’ve only ever heard one word constantly come from my parents ever since I’ve been going to school: college. When I was younger, many of my peers didn’t enjoy the idea that after school comes more school, then more school, then even more. However, my views were different. I was always told that getting into a good college would be the key to a happy, comfortable future because it would lead to a well-paying, commendable job.
My mom was mostly the one that kept emphasizing that, and she uses her college experience to backup the fact that she has a nicely-paying job as a nurse. Because of this, I was a very academic student, and I took the most advanced classes that were offered to me, taking AP classes and being one math class above my grade level. I was always motivated to do well in those classes with constant appraisals and encouragement from my family.
My dad always expressed the fact that no matter what I chose to do, I had to make sure I was happy doing it. He encouraged creativity and individuality over academic excellence. He played a part inspiring me to show interest in art, acting, and singing.
I was sitting in Science class, while my teacher, Mr. Fennell, was rambling on about something. I was actually listening, but it was still the beginning of year-the second day in fact, so I didn't think too much about what he was saying. He was my favorite teacher, and while his main focus was to teach us about science, he was only teacher that actually seemed to prepare us for the real world, and he got us to think ahead.
“Now boys and girls, I want you to think about something,” He announced, with much of the class that were spacing out now alert and listening, “What do you see yourself doing in life?” Not really giving the class any time to think, he continued, “Many of you may think: college. Others may want to be completely done with school, and others may not know at all yet. That’s okay, but you need to know soon so when you get into high school you know you’re taking the right classes.” I thought to myself, Yup Mr. Fennell, you’re right, I definitely want to go to college. However, he wasn’t done. “To those of you who are adamant about going college, I ask you: What college? How much does it cost? What classes will you be taking?” When he said that, I began to think to myself: wait, what classes would I take?
The more I thought, I realized the questions created a chain of more questions. What classes would i take? Which college would I even go to? Do I want to stay near home? How much does college cost? What if I drop out? That's already a chunk of money I won't get back. I surrounded myself with these questions until I finally reasoned that I had a lot more to think about before college. I thought about what I liked to do. Art. Acting. Singing. My dad always encouraged those. Mom always said those could be hobbies, but having them as a full time job would require a lot of luck, and pleasing an audience would never be a stable, straight-forward job. I was conflicted. An eighth grader, going into high school, not knowing what his goal was, what classes to take. I was stuck. I was standing on a borderline, blindfolded. Waiting to lose my balance and see which side a leaned on to. What mattered more to me? My academics, or my passions?
Throughout the year, Mr. Fennell always threw more philosophical questions at us. And the more I had to think about them, the more confused I got. It was never a huge priority for me to solve, until high school started to get closer.
The school counselors were visiting the school. Students were going back and forth to talk to theirs. Eventually, It was my turn, and I started walking down.
“Hi! How are you doing?” My counselor greeted me, with a very open smile.
“I’m good,” I explain, “Other than me being a little nervous.”
“Oh, don’t be, all we’re going to do is decide your classes, my names Ms. Lawrence.” Picking classes wasn’t an easy decision. I didn’t know what to give up, Academics or School. But my counselor helped remind me: It’s school. I eventually prioritized academic classes over fine arts. I gave up band.
To this day, I don’t regret the decision, but I always get feelings of nostalgia when I see people enjoying fine arts. I still partake in choir and theatre, but I also had no room for art classes. To this day, I still don’t know what I want to prioritize more. To this day, I’m stuck on a borderline, and I still haven’t overcome my struggle. I know I’m running out of time, but to this day, they are equal to me. And for now, I’m allowed to enjoy them both.