I believe in seniors. No, not senior citizens, although they’re pretty cool. The seniors I believe in are your seemingly average 17-year-olds accomplishing extraordinary things. I believe in high school seniors. With hormonal imbalances, dramatic social lives and the stresses of academic courses and extracurricular commitments, you’d think we’d have enough to deal with. Up the ante with self-doubt, confusion, experimentation, and trying to make yourself unique and appealing to whoever it is you’re romantically attracted to. Mix in the body image insecurities, acne, and fear of failure. Then top it all off with a societal expectation that is just plain cruel: that kids need to go to college to succeed. That seniors must jump through the burning fire hoops we innocuously dub the college application process. It seems all anybody wants to know about us is our college selection. Well, let me tell you, I do not believe in college. I mean, I believe that I should go to college, hopefully. But why do we spend so much time worrying about it? Why must my life be summed up into a few fill in the blanks, an SAT score, and a single-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font essay? Why do we let life be consumed by the college process?
So, I don’t really believe in the college application process. I hate what it does to people. I believe in social action, I believe in caring. I care about big things like global warming and the state of our nation and the genocide in Darfur. I care about the fact that while my seniors and I, at our privileged independent school, sit and fume about the accursed college process, just a few miles away are girls selling their bodies on the street. Young girls who never got the privileged opportunity we were handed—the privilege of education, the privilege of knowledge, the privilege of applying to college.
I believe. In a lot of things, but I have trouble believing sometimes in my city of Baltimore. All over town are big black signs with bold white letters that simply read: “Believe.” In what? I want to scream at the signs! Believe in the system that has left kids just like me on the streets? Believe in a city where drugs and guns are rampant? Believe in a city where a girl from my public elementary school died from meningitis because she didn’t have health care? I find it so hard to believe in this city sometime. So, I have to find smaller things to believe in within this place full of dualities and contrasts. I believe in working to make this city a better place. I believe in my generation, I believe that despite all our flaws, we can make a difference.
I believe in seniors because you should see some of the things they have done. You should see some of my friends, who have used their privilege to begin to remedy the problems we all see but are often too scared or too proud to try to fix. You should see these really incredible people worrying about banal stupid college. I just want to grab them by the collar of their uniform polo shirts and shake them and tell them I BELIEVE IN YOU.
I believe in seniors because, whether they know it or not, they’re going to make a difference in this world. If only they would just believe in themselves. If only they could really utilize all of their gifts for the good of humanity. I believe that seniors can and have accomplished amazing things besides getting into college. So, just ask them, won’t you? Take the time to get to know a senior, and for goodness sake, don’t ask about college. Because seniors are amazing, brilliant, multi-dimensional people who can change the world. In this I believe.
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