I’ve been hearing about it for my whole life, but it never stops changing. It starts off as next year, then middle school, then high school, and now college. In college it will be grad school, then a career, and finally retirement. Our entire lives are devoted to preparing for the next step, but we waste almost 70 years in the process. We should break the cycle and begin to enjoy our lives now instead of getting ready to do so in the future.
“In middle school your teachers won’t care about excuses, they will just give you a 0!” exclaimed my fifth grade teacher, Ms. K, who was hoping to prepare us for the upcoming year. By eighth grade it had changed a bit, “Next year if you fail a test you fail a test, no retakes, no extra credit opportunities.” Now in high school, the focus is on college. Get good grades and learn study habits, then go to a prestigious college. From there, get a masters degree and a lucrative job, which will allow you to retire happily. But what about in between? We work hard, forced to continuously bear the pressure of doing what we must. Our society works to prepare us for a job, then extract as much productivity out of us as possible, then let us go, only to be replaced by someone else. This system uses us for, what economists would call, our Marginal Resource Product, a process others might call slavery. We are like oranges: grown and nurtured, then plucked and squeezed for all of the juice we can muster, and finally discarded, left to our own accord.
We spend so much time preparing that we forget the final goal. In the end, we all want to be happy; so why put up with things we don’t enjoy? We need to remember to enjoy the ride and look at the big picture. Don’t just do what you think you’re supposed to do, do what will make you happy. Sure we have to make some sacrifices, but living a disgruntled life is not really living. When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I say “happy”. And that’s what I believe. I live for today, while keeping tomorrow in mind. This means that, though I don’t forget about my future, I won’t let myself be unhappy for the nebulous prospect of eventual prosperity. What’s the point of working hard your whole life if you don’t enjoy it?
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