A high school junior takes a moment to discuss growing up, responsibility, and the intensity of their combination.
By Holly Allen
Most of us are seventeen years old and we aren’t allowed to go to the bathroom without asking. We are expected to sit in our assigned seats. We need our parents to sign permission slips for us. We can’t buy a lottery ticket, and we can’t get married. We are faced with multiple restrictions in school and, yet, outside of it, we are expected to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We are stuck with constraints in every part of our life as if we are still children, while at the same time we are being forced to make a decision that will dictate our entire adult life.
Seventeen years old is young, right? It’s not even a legal adult. How can we be young enough to not be able to make simple life choices, but be expected to choose a career path for the rest of our lives? Since starting high school we’ve mostly taken the required classes to graduate, barely getting the chance to choose classes that actually interest us. Plus, we are only juniors and have another full year of high school. How can we even imagine what the future can offer us? We don’t know what careers really are. We might know the jobs of the adults around us, but we don’t really know what they “do.” I know my dad is an entomologist, but I think he just plays with bugs all day. I know my aunt is a nurse and to me all she does is give shots. My mom works in human resources and all I know is she fires people. We’re so young and our world is so limited that we can’t even begin to comprehend what these careers actually entail. Shoot, our brains won’t even fully develop until around age 25. So how are we, at age seventeen, supposed to make such a huge life decision?
I’ve heard the average college student changes his or her major three to five times, yet, there are successful college graduates everywhere. Doesn’t this prove my point that I don’t really need to decide my entire future at age seventeen?
I’ve been asked since kindergarten, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The only difference now is I know I’m never going to be a singer. As a seventeen-year-old, I can tell you deciding this is the most difficult process I’ve ever experienced. I change my favorite color almost every day, how do I pick something that I’ll be stuck with forever? I have no idea what I want to do with my life and the college recruiters are hammering things into my brain like, “You need to know now,” and “It’s important to know before you graduate high school.” Why do they say this to me? Do they just want me to go to their college? Do they just want my money? Do they really care about my future as an individual at all? In complete honesty, yes, I’m sure a plan would be a little helpful, but I don’t really need to decide now. People go to college all the time not knowing what they want to be. I’ve heard the average college student changes his or her major three to five times, yet, there are successful college graduates everywhere. Doesn’t this prove my point that I don’t really need to decide my entire future at age seventeen?
So, if you’re like me, and you’re not sure what to do with your life after high school, let’s not worry. We have plenty of time to figure it out and we can still do whatever we want even if it takes us a little longer to decide. So for now, let’s continue to ask to use the bathroom, sit in our assigned seats, have our parents sign permission slips, wait to buy lottery tickets, and not get married. We’re in this together.
Your classmate Holly
P.S. If I ever become a singer, disregard this advice.
Photo: Growing Up With Color TV by Thomas Hawk on Flickr