As many will recall, the movie "High School Musical" tells the tale of Troy Bolton, a boy who is forced to decide between his love of basketball and his new found passion for musical theater. Throughout the trilogy of movies, various influences in Troy's life urge him to choose one hobby over the other. As with many high school students, he is forced to plan for his future at a very young age.
At the moment, my younger brother, a freshman in high school, is facing this same predicament. He is facing the "Troy Bolton Dilemma" as he struggles to choose between lacrosse and musical theater. One could say that his “head's in the game” and his “heart’s in the song."
Yet, this dilemma did not start in high school. Rather, since my brother was about 9-years-old and began to show aptitude in both lacrosse and musical theater, he has been pressured to pick only one. Specifically, he's been pressured to choose the one he will have more success in. His success is not quantified by his ability to play in his high school theater productions or the number of goals he scores during his high school lacrosse career. Instead, this success is only measured through college acceptance letters and job offers. Every activity he partakes in and every choice he makes is affected by the looming presence of the future.
As with my brother, many high school students are faced with the "Troy Bolton Dilemma." They are forced to choose between activities in order to focus on their future plans. Students in middle school are pressured to be accepted into good high schools in order to be accepted into good colleges in order to be offered a good job to live a good life. Every action they make in this moment is made to help their future self. Rather than focus on the present situation, they are encouraged to act only for the future. Their entire life is to be dictated by choices they make as young as 14.
Furthermore, rather than experimenting with different extracurricular activities, they are pushed to pick a single activity and stick with it. Students are discouraged from partaking in different activities and restricted in developing other skills and talents. As shown in "High School Musical" by the rivalry between Coach Bolton and Ms. Darbus, activity moderators often refuse to be flexible in their schedules and demand that students focus on a single activity. Troy's coach, and father, pressures Troy to choose basketball and only basketball. However, Troy decides to take control of his future and choose to not only be "the basketball guy."
Ultimately, Troy finds his own answer to the "Troy Bolton Dilemma": he does not make a decision. After Coach Bolton confronts Troy and claims, "You're the playmaker, not a singer," Troy responds, "Did you ever think that maybe I could be both?" Instead of choosing one activity over the other, Troy decides to pursue both avenues.
Young people can learn a thing or two from Troy Bolton. Although planning for the future is important, every decision in a young adult's life should not be based on what will happen twenty years from today.
By restricting students ability to explore all avenues and forcing them to focus on the future, we, as a society, are creating many young people who will live with regret, and decreasing the students' ability to be well-rounded. Students need the chance to explore all of their options and be allowed to develop their passions.
Yes, the future is coming but, the present is now.