For more than half of my teenage years, I stood against getting an education — until I was denied one.
I was never taught the importance of having an education, whether that be secondary-level education, a two-year institution, or a four-year university. I just blocked it out of my mind.
My middle school days were easy, laidback days. I failed multiple courses under the impression that they simply didn’t matter, I walked to the town square every day after school with my neon blue jansport backpack, and I scoffed at the idea of eventually, one day, going to college and having a career.
Education simply was not on my mind. I didn’t get above a 750 on my 8th grade PSAT. I didn’t own a passed-down college hoodie. I didn’t plan on taking multiple college courses throughout high school.
What was to come? What was there to do? Why do I have to be accustomed to a cycle of unhappiness and uncertainty?
So, I stopped trying. Freshman year, I had my Fs rounded to Ds, and some — with the kindness and patience of some teachers — rounded to Cs so I could pass the semester. I constantly skipped classes and showed no patience to my classmates. My friends were the exact same and my days consisted of pure nothingness with them. I had no hobbies, no interests, no real friends and a firm belief that I didn’t need an education.
I had failing grades in almost every class at the beginning of my second semester, even though it was three weeks into 2019. I was told that I wouldn’t graduate high school if I continued down that path. I was just another kid, in another classroom, in another public school in a suburb. At the end of the day, you get what you put in. If I didn’t care, nobody else did either.
I was now the kid who barely showed up. I was turned away from my classmates, my teachers, sports, clubs, you name it. I was directionless and extremely unmotivated. I was denied over, and over, and over again.
It was devastating, and it’s a feeling I don’t want to feel again, but at an age like that, I had nowhere to go. It would either continue being denied from requests, education, groups, scholarships, even, or do something about it.
Due to the urge of counselors rushing to get sophomore schedules ready, and as offered by my counselor, I had to decide between practicing law or conducting business. I still remember to this day the look on my counselor’s face when I went back to her office four times until I decided on journalistic writing as an elective purely on impulse.
Discovering the journalism class and working on The Guardian has been one of the smartest decisions I have made so far in my life. I can easily say that due to The Guardian, I am where I am today. It’s the reason I’m going to graduate high school, and the reason I’m going to college to continue my education at the University of Illinois.
I realized my potential and I realized that there is much more than what I thought life could offer to me. I had a desire to see what my life could be like after I turned 18 and graduated high school. I could finally see myself succeeding somewhere. I wanted an education like my classmates, and I wanted to be eligible to keep writing. I started seeing more acceptances, and I saw fewer of the denials I had experienced before.
I might not have the highest grades or the highest honors, but that’s not the point. Pursuing education is not necessarily just 4.0s and retaining as much physics terminology as possible. Pursuing an education can mean preparing for whatever passion may fuel you. If there is one thing to be taken away from my story, it is that there is much more to what is in front of you.
So, pursue your passion and advance yourself through it. It worked for me.