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Letter 48: The “I Don’t Know”

25 Apr

Dear me at 17:

Today would be just like any other day.

This morning, you pushed open the heavy steel doors and entered the lobby of A.Y. Jackson Secondary School just like any other morning, along with the rest of your peers. You were hit with the same rush of cool, stale air and the faint smell of cooking grease wafting from the cafeteria. You were talking with the same people, on your way to the same classrooms to learn about the same things. You’ve even managed to finagle your same locker from last year.

Everything you’ve experienced this morning is exactly the same as it’s always been. And yet, you can’t help but feel that everything is different. You have been saddled with the keen awareness that very soon, everything is about to change. Everything is about to get a heck of a lot more serious. Today is the first day of your last year of high school.

Your parents, teachers and guidance counsellors have impressed upon you the fact that within the next two months, you will be tasked with choosing not only a University, but a career path along with it. Your bedroom is jammed full of brochures from various post secondary institutions. You’ve shoved them all away into a box in your closet, trying to pretend that the whole thing might just disappear if you shut your eyes hard enough.

You are someone who likes things to be simple and predictable. You like to know exactly where you are headed in life. As a child, you would read the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books backwards, choosing a conclusion first and then working your way back to the beginning through the path of your choice. Though you might like the idea of a road trip, you much prefer the destination to the journey. Similarly, though you want so badly to be an adult, to grow up and move away and start your own life, it’s the “getting there” that seems to be getting you down.

For the first time in your life you have been faced with the reality of free will. Endless possibilities. Sure, it sounds great, but it’s also absolutely terrifying. Each University brochure, each program choice, each field on each application stares you in the face like your destiny begging to be chosen. What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to study? Which Universities will accept you? After all the hard work, will you ever even “make it”? It’s overwhelming. And the “I don’t know” of it all is sending you into a cold sweat.

Here is the thing: In this life, you NEVER know.

You might have the illusion of knowing every now and then. After Elementary School comes Junior High. After the commercial break, the show starts. After you breathe in you breathe out. There are some things in life that are very nearly sure things. But these are few and far between and even they can throw you for a loop sometimes. You harbour the belief that you are hurtling towards a point of no return- a point in your life at which you will need to have everything “all figured out”. But that point does not exist. Not now, not in ten years, not in fifty.

Stop being so serious, my dear! Choose a goal, sure. Choose a career path and choose the program of study that might take you there. If you get in and hate it, switch programs. Switch Universities. Switch cities, houses, hair colours, whatever. Allow yourself the space to move around according to your instincts. This is the first time in your life where you are able to listen to them. Stop letting this decision trick you into believing its magnitude.

This is your life, and you really can choose your own adventure. But no cheating this time. You’ll just have to turn the pages one by one and see where the story will take you.

___________________

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

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The Hindsight Notes: To Be or Not To Be

18 Mar

The Hindsight Notes is a recurring section created for all you readers wanting to participate in THL, but lacking time to write a full letter. Each Note is composed of a question. All you need to do is answer it, in the form of a comment (below).

This week’s topic is: When you were a teenager, what did you want to be “when you grew up”?

Adolescence is like a 7 year long endurance test, laden with career related pressure. We’re told that every test, essay, and exam is leading us one step closer  to (or further away from) the University of our choice or our dream career.

So, given the fact that career choice and goals are such an important element in the adolescent experience, we want to know, what did you want to be? Have you become it? Why? Why not? Are you happy with your decision?

As always, I’ll start us out:

____________________

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

 

The Hindsight Notes: Teenaged Archetype

11 Mar

The Hindsight Notes is a recurring section created for all you readers wanting to participate in THL, but lacking time to write a full letter. Each Note is composed of a question. All you need to do is answer it, in the form of a comment (below).

This week’s topic is: Your Teenaged Archetype.

Every teen movie ever created plays off of the teenaged archetypes we’ve gathered in the collective unconscious. The popular girl (Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz). The mean girl (Rachel McAdams as Regina George). The rich kid (James Spader as Steff). Though their personalities might seem specific to the stories, their character traits are broad enough to cover a spectrum of teenagers.

So this week, we want to know: If you had to pick one Teen Movie Character to represent yourself as you were during your adolescence, who would it be? Why? Are you still like him or her?

As always, I’ll start us out:

_______________________

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

 

The Hindsight Notes: Worst Exam

25 Feb

The Hindsight Notes is a recurring section created for all you readers wanting to participate in THL, but lacking time to write a full letter. Each Note is composed of a question. All you need to do is answer it, in the form of a comment (below).

This week’s topic is: Your Worst Exam.

The stress of exam season is something that continues to haunt me well into my adult life. I have a recurring nightmare in which I realize that I have an exam in an hour for a class that I have neither attended, nor have I studied the material. The sheer, gut-wrenching panic is something that consistently causes me to wake up in a cold sweat and be eternally grateful that my school career has come to a close.

So this week, we want to hear all about your scariest, longest, toughest, absolute worst exam. What about it made it so terrible? The format? The subject matter? The fact that you studied for something completely different from the stuff that wound up on the paper in front of you?

As always, I’ll start us out:

________________________

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

 

The Hindsight Notes: Favourite School Subject

11 Feb

The Hindsight Notes is a recurring section created for all you readers desperate to participate in THL, but lacking time to write a full letter. Each Note is composed of a question. All you need to do is answer it, in the form of a comment (below).

This week’s topic is: What was your favourite high school subject?

We’ve talked about your Least Favourite Class. Now we want to know, which was your most favourite? Why? Was it simply because you were good at it? Or maybe because you enjoyed the challenge? What was it about that subject that made it your favourite? Most importantly, did the interest spawned during your teen years spark into a University Major, or even a Career?

As always, I’ll start us out:

_______________

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

 

*GUEST SUBMISSION* Letter 34: Only You Know What Makes You Happy

17 Jan

Sweetpeacurli writes:

Dear me at 16:

I know it seems like your parents know best, but trust me, they don’t always.

For one… you are not fat. Yes, I know your mother keeps telling you that you are. But trust me, you are not. You are beautiful and slender. Your belly is flat. You have lovely womanly curves. And believe it or not, 20 years from now your weight at age 16 will actually be your goal weight for most of your dieting efforts.

Secondly… It’s okay to not go to college right after high school. Your mother is convinced that if you don’t go right away you never will, and that if you don’t go to college you’ll end up living on the street. This is her issue; not yours. It’s okay to know that you aren’t ready to decide your course of study, and therefore your career path. It’s okay to want to experience something of the world before deciding what you want your role in it to be.

Third – and this kind of summarizes #1 and #2 – stop succumbing to pressure. Take your time when making decisions and decide what is best for you. Only you know what makes you happy. Decide what that is and pursue it. Those who love you WILL support you, and will help you achieve whatever goals you set your sights on. All you have to do is decide on those goals and vocalize them, and stick to your guns when the naysayers (like your parents) object. People will jump to help you however they can, including your parents, believe it or not.

Finally… put down the damn eyeliner. You look like a tramp.

Sweetpeacurli is a self-proclaimed curl guru who thrives on pseudonyms. The dreams she once had of becoming an internationally famous hair stylist were dashed to pieces by her parents’ snobbery, so she has resigned herself to being a colorful character on the interwebs. You can find her at http://healthycurls.net.

______________

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

The Hindsight Notes: It Gets Better

12 Nov

The Hindsight Notes is a recurring section created for all you readers desperate to participate in THL, but lacking time to write a full letter. Each Note is composed of a question. All you need to do is answer it, in the form of a comment (below).

This week’s topic is: It Gets Better.

As you know, this week all of our posts have been dedicated to the It Gets Better Project. We’ve even been lucky enough to share an incredible Letter from talented Canadian Writer Sarah Liss.

For this week’s Hindsight Note, we’re asking that you share with us a moment from your adolescence when you needed to know that It Gets Better. Were you having a tough time at school? A tough time at home? Feeling alone or frightened or small? Share it with us here. You never know who you could help along the way.

As always, I’ll start us out:

___________

If you liked this post, you’ll love this one and this one!