Choosing Happiness Over Approval

Christian Garnica, Reporter

Junior year is described as the climax of the typical high school experience. It is said to come with lots of stress, sleepless nights, and is the ultimate preparation for a life beyond high school. My overall experience during  junior year proved this to be true, not only academically but also socially. 

I found myself struggling to keep up with my classes, not because they were hard, but because I felt mentally and physically drained. Succeeding in school had always been somewhat easy for me, but having to keep up with my classmates’ goals and live up to my parents’ expectations became a weight that dragged on my ankles. 

I began to question myself and the people around me started to ask, “What do you plan on doing after high school?” Obviously my instinct was to automatically answer with “go to college,” because that’s what society has embedded us to believe is necessary for success. 

However, I am finally beginning to realize that maybe that’s not what I want, but it’s what everyone around me wants. 

Nowadays society, teachers, and parents make academic success a priority because it is what will ultimately determine our futures. Yet they cease to prioritize the self-aspired goals of teenagers and young adults. I’m not advocating that wanting to attend college is not ideal or saying that parents shouldn’t encourage their kids to pursue a higher education. A college degree can be a rewarding asset in one’s life. But, I know now that it isn’t the determining factor in achieving my success or happiness. 

In order for me to find my happiness I need to find what I want to do in life. I feel as if all my classmates have their futures planned out and a life awaiting them after high school. I struggle with the idea that I will never have a life-changing experience or sudden realization that will lead me to finding my purpose. I’ve pushed this idea to the back of my mind since freshman year and I didn’t believe junior year would come so quickly. 

Although I still haven’t found anything that piques my interest I still plan to work hard and finish high school strong. I’ve learned that it’s okay to not have my life planned out at the age of 17 and good things do come to those who wait. I am honestly eager for my future despite the unknown obstacles it may hold. 

I was never one to walk away from a challenge that pertains to my life. This school year has taught me that the person you are in high school does not determine who you will be in the future. All these years I was in denial and forced myself to believe that people’s opinions about my future should determine it, however I’m the one that should be the director of my own path. 

Despite common misconceptions about junior year, it is truly what you make it and in the end it only matters what you aspire to do and become.