Doing it My Way

Erin - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on April 25, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that everyone should be given the chance to make their own decisions, and to choose their own path for their own future. At some point in time, everyone has someone else trying to make decisions for them. This is especially true for high school students because when teenagers are in school the people around them, teachers and parents alike, feel the need to make decisions for the student, because they know best. But not all these decisions are made with the students’ best interest at heart, at least not in my experience.

I emancipated from my parents when I was a junior in high school, and by the time September of my senior year rolled around, I found out I was pregnant. That was the most terrifying moment in my life up to that point. Thoughts were swirling around in my head like a tornado as I found myself faced with decisions I never thought to make, but three things were clear: I would finish school. I would find a good, stable job. I would fulfill my dream of teaching. So I continued going to school throughout the day and working in the evening.

I knew I needed to graduate if I was to be successful and support my unborn baby, but even seven years ago it was taboo to be pregnant in high school. Imagine my surprise, when I showed up for my Environmental Science class on a cold Monday morning in February, and my teacher informed me I was not on her attendance sheet. The same two questions spun through my head like a merry-go-round, “What? How could this happen to me? What?” After many hours consulting with the office, I found out they had dropped me because I was pregnant, and in their experience a girl who found herself in this situation did not graduate.

Did this mean they could make that decision for me, just because it was in their experience? Did this mean they believed I was not capable of making something of myself due to this inconvenience? This was crazy! So, I called the principal, met with the superintendent, and filed a petition with the school board, before I convinced everyone that it was unfair, forcing me to drop out when I needed an education to support my family.

At this time I became aware of how adults treat teenagers, especially when they feel they are doing what is best. Does anyone stop to ask, “Do they want to go to the same university as their dad? Do they want to play the same sport as their older brother? Do they want to go into the family business?” Sometimes this answer is yes, but sometimes this answer is no.

Everyone should be given the chance to make their own decisions, and to choose their own path for their own future. This is what I believe. I fought to stay in school to make something of myself and I now have a healthy, beautiful, six-year-old daughter named Emily. She has everything a little girl could need: a great school, good friends, and a stable home; she is involved in extra-curricular activities like Brownies, swimming, and ballet, too. I am also pursuing my own dreams of going to school to be a teacher, and making a very successful life for myself. In my instance, others did not know what was best. So, isn’t it time to step back and allow other pre-adults to try it their way?