Ever since elementary school, I have dreaded growing up. I would move slowly through my childhood and take in every little thing about my surroundings. My 10-year-old heart was too full to move through life without enjoying it.
As I got older and became a teenager, my heart began aching. Maybe it was from that silly relationship that ended badly, or maybe it was from a fight my friends and I got into. But more often than not, my heart ached because I knew what I was destined to become; and I wanted no part of it.
During my sophomore year, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was sitting in a class where I knew I would never use any information from, and I began thinking about where I was in life and where I was going to be in 10, 20, or even 30 years. I threw my pencil down and I sat silently, arms crossed, until the bell rang for lunch.
I raced to my friends to tell them my epiphany. I figured they would be just as angry as I was.
“Why are we here?” I began.
“Why do we sit in classrooms every day, learning things that we will probably never need, just to graduate high school and go off to a college where we will learn for a few more years, only to graduate again and work at a job that we might not even like, so that we can make money to survive until we die of old age or in some tragic accident?”
My friends stared at me blankly. They tried to explain to me that school was important, that we needed it to be successful, just like every parent and teacher had told me over and over again.
Was I going crazy, or was I the only one who was sane?
All I knew was that I didn’t want to continue to follow this dreadful cycle. High school, college, work, die. It seems so boring; so horrible to live such a life.
What if I want to be an artist? I want to go to art school and learn about creative writing and poetry and the meaning behind words. I am told that with a career like that, I’ll be living on the streets. I need to think about the money. I need to pursue a career I hate because it will help me survive.
I am passionate about writing. Many of my friends are passionate about art, music, and photography. They are told they need a backup plan. They are told that their passion is a hobby– not a career.
What if I want to be a mechanic? I want to work on cars and fix old ones to make them new again. I am told that with a career like that, no one will take me seriously. It is too simple; I need a job that will change the world.
There are many people who want to help others with inconveniences, like plumbers and mechanics. Without these jobs, no one would be able to fix things, or help people in these ways. People who want to pursue these things are told that they need to think bigger. They need a job that will shape the world– not one that is small and will only help society in certain instances.
Why has our society decided that jobs like these aren’t good enough?
Without art, our world would have no culture. We would have no expression, no feeling, no emotion. Without mechanics or plumbers, no one would be able to fix things for themselves. If everyone grew up to be a doctor or an engineer or an architect, society would crumble to pieces.
Throughout high school, I have been told that I need to focus on my grades. I need to finish all of my homework on time, pass all of my tests, get all A’s, and take every AP test that is available to me. No college will want me if I waste my time on art and writing and music. All of that is simply useless; maybe I should try to be a scientist!
But that isn’t what I want. That isn’t how I want to live. Everybody has decided that work isn’t about doing what we love; it’s about the paycheck you get and what you’re going to spend it on– the debt from student loans because you went to college to get a job you don’t want so that you can pay off the degree you didn’t want to get in the first place.
Why don’t high schools push for us to pursue our passions?
The art classes are electives. They are optional. Everybody has to take science, math, and English, and there is hardly any room in your schedule for music or photography or creative writing. The American school system sends us off into the real world with no understanding of who we want to be. All we know is what we have to do. We have to work a dead-end job to make enough money to live comfortably.
I never liked being comfortable.
This world has too many options and places to see to waste my time working at a job I don’t care about. If I were comfortable, I would have no desire to make changes. I would be stuck, and I know that I would be unhappy.
I want to explore places. I want to pursue my passion for writing. And I want to go against this cycle that everyone has decided is normal.
Humans are supposed to be hungry for change. Nothing will change if we all decide that money is more important living happily.
There is not only one path. Don’t let them fool you.