I’m Working In Fear Of A Future I Don’t Want

Does anyone else have no clue where they are going?

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Hannah Kim, Staff Writer

The end of my high school experience is quickly approaching, but I feel like a freshman stuck in a senior’s body. And maybe it’s because of quarantine, maybe it’s because of my own mental dilemmas, but I cannot see any rough outline of my future. My high school career is almost over, but what has it all been for? What will come out of my struggle? These four years are a critical time in all high schoolers’ lives, so what if I cannot carve out a satisfying future with what I have done?

I know quarantine was a crazy time for everyone, each filled with unique and painful struggles. Personally, my struggles have royally screwed up my academic career. I completely let my mental health go, and in the aftermath, all I am left with is confusion and a tragic dent in my transcript. 

Full of potential, I proudly finished freshman year language arts with my best friend at 130%. I was one year ahead of many in math and Spanish. I got the honor roll every semester when it felt like I wasn’t even trying. I helped out with something I was passionate about in the Best Buddies PE program. Even if, in the back of my head, there were feelings of dismay about my future, I was still academically thriving and a part of something greater than myself. Where did that version of myself go during junior year, arguably the most important year of high school? 

Reminiscing about my time in school only unraveled that my existential crisis had always been there, but it slowly crept up and consumed me. It just got harder and harder to manage as school became more challenging. The funny thing is, it has hurt those who care about me more than me; specifically my parents. Disappointment from your parents is harrowing, but it feels even worse when you can’t stop digging yourself into a hole. 

I remember knowing exactly what I wanted to do and the inspiration behind it. My sophomore year Spanish teacher had shared with us a gut-wrenching story of an abused child, and how he was sent to juvenile detention because of his upbringing. My teacher personally knew the psychiatrist who spoke to the young boy about his behavior, and that story has never left my mind. The details of the story -which 

can understandably be too gruesome for a school newspaper- were everything I needed to want to become a therapist for children in juvenile detention. 

‘Four years majoring in psychology, and two post-grad years in a specialization seems doable’ I thought to myself. 

I had never excelled in any extracurricular that I felt could grow into a career, so finding something I was passionate about I knew I could achieve academically was everything. I greedily clung to the idea, it became a security blanket for me when I thought of my future. It enabled me to forget about my future until it didn’t. Until my struggles took over and snuffed out the passion.

Junior year; a year where the ugliest side of myself came out once again, and I demolished everything. I had always gotten fairly great grades, so when multiple in danger of failing emails came to my parents, they didn’t know what to do with themselves any more than I did. It didn’t help that everything was online, therefore it was my responsibility to wake in time and join zoom meetings from the comfort of my own bed. As a notorious napper, that could have been one of the worst combinations. So used to ignoring my future, I saw no consequences to giving into the dark side of myself. I didn’t care about anything, I lost all interest, and the only thing keeping me going was a newfound silly little first love and my friends. I poured everything into them and nothing else. 

Along the line, my first love did what typical first loves do and broke my heart, and I was left with a crippling feeling of wanting to escape the tie that binds me to this world. My mental crisis had been building up for years until that moment, and when I lost them, it was just the last straw. My relationship with my parents was going up in flames, and I could not find joy in anything. The cherry on top? After a huge fight with my parents, my first breakup, and physical sickness, we were going back to traditional school the next day. All I remember is blasting music in AP psychology to keep myself from bursting into tears. 

I felt as if I had lost everything, my interests, my dignity, my family, and my academic future. Being in a class where the teacher and I were both painfully aware I was catastrophically failing was so humiliating. Sitting there, as the class knew exactly what was going on while I didn’t even know what website we were on was tragic. I finally saw the consequences of my actions, and it was like rubbing salt in my wound. 

I was obviously at an all-time low, but thankfully I had a support system. After some time and healing, I was ready to try and get back up on my feet again. I worked hard in language arts, making sure I paid attention to ”Of Mice and Men”, which I thought was too boring and predictable. I put in all my efforts for the final project and spent hours perfecting my drawings and depictions. It all paid off, I won all the Kahoot’s (which felt great by the way) and finished the class with an A. I worked hard to fix my other classes, particularly history, and basically led the group project. Maybe a measly accomplishment for others, but I did not fall asleep in a single class. It all came at a cost though. By the time I began applying myself, some classes were unsalvageable. I made the upsetting decision to give up a certain class to save all the others, and I do not regret it. 

I ended the year with both a miserably failed class and an A and passed all my other classes. So, what now? I wish I could say this is a fairytale ending and I am perfectly fine now and I know exactly what I’m doing. But the thing is, I really don’t. I have no clue what to do, and applying to college seems like the most logical route for me (both to appease myself and my parents) but my transcript is a thorn in my foot. I am doing better now, and I’m proud of myself for getting through that year, but life is still moving. What am I left with now? I can try to pursue a career as a therapist as my sophomore year self would have wanted, but I feel no passion for it anymore. I have reverted to my state of ennui, the only difference is this time I feel more pressure to move forward. 

I know it’s okay to not have every detail figured out right now, but I don’t know what big step I am going to take after high school. I don’t know what I am working for, and I only have a vague fragment of an idea about what type of future I want. 

The future I want is one where I am free to do whatever I please. Naive, I know, but that’s just where I land when the question inevitably plagues my mind. And maybe it’s because I grew up in a generation where we feel pressure to romanticize our lives or constantly look for ‘main character’ moments, desperate for a unique movie screen life to evade an ordinary, boring existence. I just want to have a life that I am happy with. A life that I can be proud of instead of wanting to run away from. 

To be frank, I’m scared. I am a senior who has just barely begun my journey of self-discovery, but now I am overwhelmed with college apps, the pressure to not disappoint my parents, and getting into a good university. I have no clue what I am doing and I feel so lost, but at least I am moving forward. I’m not staying still anymore, I can’t afford to anymore. 

I hope this reaches someone, anyone who feels this way or knows someone who does. I hope my little story doesn’t feel as if I am fishing around the school newspaper for some pity, I just know there is someone out there who knows exactly what I am talking about. I hope the message you receive from this is that you are not alone. I may not have a perfect solution, but I know that finding each other and working through it together is all we can do.

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