When turning 18, especially in the United States since you’re becoming a legal adult, a person faces a lot more responsibility and must tackle the challenges brought on by the adult world. I recently turned 18 a month or two back and have reflected on all of the things that have shaped me into the legal adult I am today. I guess you could say this is my parting wisdom or guide to growing throughout high school.
Throughout high school, you go through a ton of different experiences that individualize you, what you choose to pursue in life, and how you lay the path for your future. For me, Freshman year was an eye-opener about how the real world is and how you’re growing up. You must start giving it your all in Freshman year so that way you get all of your credits out of the way in your first three years of high school. When you hit senior year, you can take the final classes required and then not have to worry about anything else. If you have a small number of classes, you could end up coming into school late or leaving early. Because I pushed myself throughout high school, I earned a scholarship that will cover 85% of my tuition at Southern CT State University for my undergraduate program. There are also scholarships for things such as cosmetology school, trade school, and the military. Some of those programs will pay you for your schooling so long as you give them your time/service. I will not lie, there is a lot of pressure put on you by the outside world about your chosen career path and college. It’s okay to not want to go to college. It’s okay to pursue options like a trade school, the military, or professions like dog grooming. As long as you are doing something productive with your life and something that will help you have a successful future, anything is an option. Don’t let people bully you into doing something you don’t want to do.
I chose to major in something that I enjoyed in life and that should be something you do as well. I love to talk and work with people, as well as music. Speech and Language Pathology (SLP) stuck out to me because it involves so many different areas of the ears, nose, and throat. It especially interests me because I have had vocal training so I will be able to apply some of that to SLP work. I also really enjoy working with people and being hands-on, so SLP seemed like a perfect fit for me. With a minor in music and vocal instruction, I can additionally teach music on the side and implement vocal techniques into my SLP curriculum. If you are doing something that you love, it won’t feel like a job every day. I took a few classes like CPR and First Aid at EHHS that helped me solidify that I wanted to do something in the medical field that would benefit people. If you have questions about what you want to do, go see the teacher who teaches subjects you’re interested in. Type into Google: “Jobs for people who like _____”. There are so many options available to you.
Emotional exploration and finding your friends are other important parts of high school. By sophomore and junior year, you start to figure out the direction you want to go in socially. You’ll probably still be in contact with some people from elementary and middle school, and possibly a few from classes previously. Don’t be afraid to turn around and chat with someone new because that person could turn out to be one of your new best friends. I know it probably sounds repetitive and cheesy, but sometimes you just have to get over your social awkwardness and throw yourself out of your comfort zone. Additionally, you should try to find people who share the same interests as you and get involved in clubs that cater to that. Drama Club was one of the clubs I was most involved with during high school. Despite COVID-19 limiting the time I had doing actual productions, I was at least able to make some solid friendships with those people and create some incredible memories. Who cares if people make fun of you for what clubs you do or who you talk to? Let them. In 5-10 years, it really won’t matter what they have to say because you will be off doing your own thing.
When you turn 18, a whole different world opens up to you. You can join the military, go to Federal Prison for crimes like tax fraud, get married without parental consent, skydive, and much more. Despite all of the amazing opportunities offered due to the fact you’re legal now, you still are going to have responsibilities. You usually have more responsibilities on your shoulders once you become an adult. Don’t worry - it is possible to manage having a job and going to school. I usually do both by working part-time on Friday through Saturday or picking up a few jobs during the summer. Do what works for you, but I recommend trying to work at least 15 hours a week so that you’re making approximately $150 once your taxes are taken out. That’s $600 a month and $7,200 a year if you save it. Also, don’t forget to do your tax returns for work! It might be a small amount of money returned, but it will add up eventually. Working a job and having your own money is an amazing feeling. Try to get one as soon as you turn 16 or 17 so that you can put that money away and let some interest grow on it.
All in all, growing up can be something scary but also exciting. There is so much the world has to offer so take advantage of it. Try everything at least once so that way you can confidently say whether you like it or not. Talk to that person in the corner you wouldn’t normally strike up a conversation with. Go to Homecoming and live your best life. Life is way too short to stand by and do nothing. After all, life is a celebration so why not enjoy it?