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Let’s Get Real… #SeniorSzn

In my head, I always pictured my senior year as a scene from High School Musical. In fact, the night before my first day, I stayed up until 2 AM watching High School Musical 3: Senior Year to start the year off right. Unfortunately, I was met with everything but a teenage dream. My excitement about cherishing my final months of youth quickly shifted to indifference. I had no interest in participating in any of my “lasts,” such as homecoming and my school’s biannual talent shows. I’m attending class because I have to, not because I want to. As I face my final two months of high school, I just want to earn my diploma and leave.

I often ask myself how I got here, and although I cannot blame my lack of interest on a singular factor, I know that college applications brought it to light.

At seven years old, I already had dreams of Harvard and Yale. As far as I was concerned, those schools were the best of the best and that’s where I needed to be. I worked hard throughout elementary and middle school. I got praised for all my A’s. However, somewhere along the line, those A’s were no longer a reflection of my eagerness to learn and achieve but rather a result produced through means of necessity. I set a standard for myself that was extremely difficult to maintain. By this point, I was expected to do well, so I had no other choice but to keep going. I was going through the motions of school and life trying to please the people around me, so I never felt connected to my academic success. It wasn’t for me.

The dissociation between my mind and my current life became apparent when every college essay started with “Why did you…”

“Why did you choose this major?” The rest of my family chose computer science, so I did too.

“Why do you think this university is the right fit for you?” I have no idea, but my parents say you all have a great program.

Obviously, I can’t write either of those answers down. But it was the truth. At this point, a war broke loose in my head, trying to avoid the reality that I had no sense of self. I had no idea what I wanted, or why I was doing the things I was doing. For so long, I was merely completing the tasks expected of me, regardless of my interests. I hated myself for it. I wanted to start living for myself and so I pushed myself into an “if I don’t want to, I’m not going to” mindset.

I started calling out of work more. I stopped talking to my friends. I procrastinated on all my assignments. I blocked out anything that did not bring peace or joy. I neglected any responsibilities that I reaped no benefit from. I became selfish (and not in a good way).

Having gone from people-pleasing to being overly protective of my peace, I know that true fulfillment is found in the balance between both. I still enjoy knowing that people expect great things from me, as it shows they believe in my capabilities. However, I cannot let expectations overshadow my own decision-making skills. At the end of the day, I am the only person who will always be with me, so I have to make sure I learn who I am without the overt influence of others.

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