At age ten, I dreamed of becoming president as many girls do. I progressed through elementary and middle school and decided I would be an astronaut, a veterinarian, an author, a baker, and so much more. As I grew, my mind seemingly changed every month or so about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.
I am now almost seventeen and the same holds true. I am constantly discovering new things —about myself and the world around me— which completely alter my ideal life. However, the older I get the more I am told that I “should have this figured out” by now.
At age thirteen, students all around the district are picking a curricular path for the next four years of their lives. This is the first push of many that young teens feel to have everything figured out. Now teens feel the need to settle down and work towards a single career once they enter their freshman year if they ever want to be “successful.”
In the eighth grade, I was introduced to the 21st Century programs. At the time my big aspiration was to become a journalist or an english teacher, so I was told I should join Distinguished Scholars Language Arts. So, I did. Once more, I changed my mind, but now I was locked into this program.
Don’t get me wrong, despite changing my future career path, I still love my program. I also see the value of the programs and the many career advancements they provide. However, they encourage a harmful mindset pushed in society that high school and adolescence is only about figuring out a career path.
Many students join 21st Century programs or take classes thinking that that’s what they want to do for the rest of their lives, but come to find out that they don’t have a real passion for it. Scared of change or what might happen if they stray from the path, they remain passionless.
High school should be about self-discovery. While career exploration is a piece of that, it should not be the main focus. Students shouldn’t feel pressured to decide the rest of their lives before they even step through the doors of OlatheNorth.
As a community, we must encourage students to try new things, seek new hobbies and activities that may not align with their plans. Even if they aren’t the best at it or it doesn’t advance their career, students need to find passions and identities separate from careers.
Most of all, we must show students that it’s okay for plans to change. A key part of discovering who you are and what you love is finding out what’s not for you.
We have to encourage students to stray from tunnel vision and find themselves in the process. To explore everything that high school and life have to offer, and let them dabble in the things that they love without feeling bound to it.