If I had chosen to follow in others' high school plans, I would be regretting it years from now.
There's the classic case of seeing others engaging in bad (but compelling) acts, like smoking or drinking and being forced by them to join in, but no one really prepares you for the peer pressure that comes with making decisions about your future. Yes, I know that people say, "Choose what you feel is right for you specifically," and I have done just that. Every decision I've made about my future thus far has focused on what I want, but these all have been tiny yes or no's — not ones that have shaped where I'll be heading career-wise for the rest of my working life.
And after the decision-making comes the second-guessing, which happens only to some people who are more susceptible to it than others.
I've always found myself able to easily stand up against addictively-gross habits that are known to destroy people's lives, but never did I realize how open I was to being persuaded by what others see for their futures. A few days ago, I received my course recommendations for the upcoming school year, and I could not have been prouder of myself. The courses I was given matched perfectly to my high school plan, and I was right on target with what classes I felt were most interesting.
But I'll own up to the fact that I can lack balance. I am the straight image of a workaholic, and up until a few years ago, that was all I felt was necessary to being successful. Work, work and more work. I thought there was nothing wrong with working so much because I enjoyed doing it. So when someone finally came clean and told me that I had to cut it down before I went insane, I realized how much the rest of my life had been impacted by my addiction to working. Everything else came second to the papers sitting in my bag, waiting to be completed.
So I spent the next years after that working on my extracurriculars and spending more time with my friends. I had a lot more balance in my life, and even if I thought I was initially happy filling out papers all day, I was even happier mixing it with my life outside of working.
Now, because it'd been so long since I'd received a wake-up call, I didn't know how to handle a sudden reminder from someone that I needed to stay balanced. Because I was hitting every point in my life perfectly, I could see the gold medal waiting for me. I actually felt excited for the rest of my high school career.
That was, until the college conversation began.
Course recommendations are a stressful time of the year because you have to make a decision that you'll stick by for a whole nine months. I was fairly confident in my choices, but when I sat down in my next class that day, I heard my friend mention all of these fancy names for courses she was taking.
I felt a pit of dread grow in my stomach, and I felt... stuck. That's a good word for it. Stuck. I thought because I'd set a high school plan, I chained myself to it and had made a pact that there would be absolutely no way for me to get out of the deal I made with myself. I wanted to change all of my courses for some reason, the ones that I'd been itching to take for years because of my interest in those fields. I wanted to change them because someone else's courses sounded better.
So I went home that day, feeling a few traitor tears fall because I was so nervous about losing my chances at getting into the colleges I wanted to go to. Suddenly, I could see the gold medal at the end disappearing and being replaced with a rusty trophy that said, "You could've done better."
People don't prepare you for the peer pressure that forces you to make "better" decisions. They don't let you know just how important it is to follow your own future and not be blinded by the image of someone else's. But that evening, I learned how vital it is to be true to yourself in all aspects, especially when the topic concerns your future.
I like to think that I live for who I am, and 99 percent of the time, that's true. I needed just that little nudge in the right direction to understand that the one percent of the time I'm living for others, I'm not living my best life. So now, I'm back on schedule and once again ready to take on the world. No one said life would be as easy as can be, but I know I can take away those unnecessary bumps along the way if I just relax and lead my own path.
I can already start to see that gold medal shining again.