This I Believe

Gabrielle - Los Angeles, California
Entered on June 21, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: change, fear

I believe that I am under a lot of pressure

I’m sixteen. If I live to the national average of 82 years old, then I’ve lived a little over one fifth of my life. By the end of that first 20% of my existence, the world expects me to have grown up enough to know what I want to do with the remaining 80%.

In just one short year, I’m expected to have made all these critically important, life-altering decisions: where to go to college, what I want to study, where I’m going to live, how I’m planning to feed myself, and whether or not I am even ready to leave my family.

When we’re still little, we think about the future. Everybody does it. But I never really thought about what to do when the future and the present start becoming one and the same.

Especially this June, watching all my slightly older friends prepare to go out into the world. I’m not ready for them to go; they’re the last real group of trailblazers we’ll get in high school. Without them, we are the seniors, with nobody left to push us around, but nobody left to set the pace either. It means we have to do things on our own now.

Sure, these aren’t exactly adult kinds of problems. I have yet to deal with taxes, real heartbreak or keeping a roof over my head. But the pressure of making these decisions doesn’t feel any less substantial.

Granted, though all of this, I am maturing. I’m getting older, growing up, turning into an adult. But I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Then again, maybe I’ll never be ready enough.

But what I really, truly, deeply believe, despite all my stress and preoccupation, is that it doesn’t matter where we all go. That’s not the important part of this time. The important part is that we are going. We are rapidly approaching on a turning point, where we leave childhood, and it scares me because it’s something I’m not sure I want to do yet.

The fact is, however, that I really cannot do anything to avoid making these decisions. I really do want to move forward, but at the same time I don’t want to surrender my childhood quite yet. I’m stuck in a mental limbo.

But through all of that, I’ve come to see that maybe this pressure isn’t so much pushing me down as pushing me forward. This isn’t the end of my story, just the end of the beginning. And you don’t stop reading after the introduction, do you?