As I approach the halfway point of my junior year, I find myself realizing something alarming. No, not that I am totally in over my head as far as classes go; I knew that from day one of junior year. The alarming thing that I’ve begun to realize is that it has become socially acceptable for people to ask me what exactly I plan on doing with my life.
The first time I was asked this question was the fall of my freshman year. My family and I were staying with our great uncle, whom we did not know very well. One morning, as I sat at the breakfast table, he sat himself down next to me. He folded his hands atop the table, looked me in the eyes, and said, “So Lily, what are you thinking about for the future?” I was extremely caught off guard. The future?
“I, uh, what do you mean?” I asked.
“You know. Life after high school,” he responded. I gulped. The truth was, I had absolutely no idea.
“Engineer!” I said, not because I wanted to be one, but because it was the first respectable career that occurred to me. The uncle nodded, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Probably one of the most distressing things about high school is that people expect you to know what you’re doing. Acquaintances, teachers, friends of my parents- all of them expect me to have an acceptable future plan ready for review at a moment’s notice. I could always just be honest and admit that I have only the vaguest notion of what life after High School will look like for me. However, I fear that others perceive that as not caring.
Adults will, most likely, never stop asking that dreaded question. Perhaps its good that they do ask it because I am a person who is bad at making decisions and sometimes needs to be pressured. Still, it is uncomfortable. It stinks that you are supposed to have everything decided by the end of junior year- before you can vote, have a credit card- before you’re even technically an adult. I would appreciate it if the adults in my life allowed me to enjoy the last year of my childhood before the crushing weight of debt and personal responsibility is firmly upon my shoulders.