On high school, and why it ruined my life

I remember when I was young and adults would constantly tell me that I could do anything I ‘set my mind to.’ The first career I picked for myself at the mere age of 8 was astronaut. I wanted to go to the moon and find intelligent life on other planets. By the time I was 10 I had changed my mind because space was scary, and I wanted to be a veterinarian. Animals made me happy so I wanted to take care of them, and in my mind, being a veterinarian was the equivalent of playing with cute little fur creatures all day long. Obviously I wasn’t taken seriously at this time in my life, and it was considered perfectly normal to be jumping back and forth between my future career aspirations.

Fast forward a few years, and I was in a Freshman Seminar class in my first semester of high school. We had to do some kind of project on what we wanted to be when we ‘grew up,’ and they wanted us to take this seriously. No more of this ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’ nonsense at this point. We were young adults only 4 years away from graduating, we needed a plan. The plan.

I wasn’t sure what to choose for this project, but I was a bookworm who spent much of her spare time writing little stories. Truth be told, there wasn’t much that I enjoyed in this time of my life. I was miserable and lonely and too shy to function. I chose ‘writer’ as my career path, because for me, that was all there was. I knew that I couldn’t just get a job reading books for the rest of my life, but if I was the one writing the books, well…people seemed to be okay with that.

Imagine my surprise when the teacher gives me back my initial career proposal and goes on to tell me that I’m not being realistic at all and I need to choose something that can be accomplished. I ask her why she doesn’t think I could be a writer if it were what I really wanted with my life, and she said something like “you can’t just become a writer because it would make you happy.” I remember feeling crushed and slightly confused, and I even said that I honestly had no clue what I would want to do with my life if she thought that was an unattainable goal. I don’t even remember what I ended up finishing that career proposal on. The only thing that has stuck with me for almost 12 years now is that what I wanted wasn’t good enough, or that possibly I wasn’t good enough for what I wanted.

Perhaps she was right; there is a good chance that if I had ever tried to write a book, I would’ve made a complete fool of myself. I’ll never really know, because I never gave myself a chance to try. All I’m left with are pages of unfinished stories and characters who will never see the light of day.

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