Commentary: Teenagers need to live their lives

The student population should be able to enjoy their four years of high school

I knew exactly what I wanted.

Freshman year, stepping onto the campus for the first time, I knew that one day I was going to go be going off to Ohio State University, majoring in English and playing for the OSU band.

I knew that every bit of effort I would need to put in would start the very minute I stepped onto campus.

I was prepared to take as many Advanced Placement classes I could. By senior year, you’d bet I was going to be enrolled in every single AP class I could take, including AP Stats, a math class that I could surely handle.

Everything was supposed to go according to plan.

Skip ahead to the second semester of freshman year.

In my math class, I had a C-. I should not have made it to IM2. It was by sheer luck that I managed to pass the final and make my way on.

In Earth Science with Mr. Thomas, I also had a C.

I ended Health and Wellness with a B. Same for PE, somehow.

This seemed alright because I was a freshman. College doesn’t care  about freshman year.

I remember very clearly the first time I sat in a classroom where I was looked in the eyes and asked the question of what it was that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I was 14 years old.

I knew exactly what I wanted.


Skip ahead to the middle of sophomore year.

Marching band season was burned to the ground. The fires in Paradise had smoked out our champs, the one thing that would’ve given me closure to a year of mismanaged anxiety and fear.

I did not have an A in a single one of my classes.

I was struggling to find motivation to stand up from my bed every single morning. 

Everyone seemed better than me. Everyone seemed smarter than me. I had to live up to an expectation. I had to go to college, do well in school, get some sort of crazy scholarship.

Once, the concept of going to college and living my life seemed so easy. So unimaginably simple.

When did I let my motivation slip my fingers?

When did I begin to struggle to find a purpose to all of this?

When did I change?

I knew exactly what I wanted.


At the end of sophomore year, I had committed myself to high school, but not in the way that I had before.

Now I have quit worrying about my grades, going to college, and I even quit worrying about taking the SAT.

I have realized that it was unnecessary to me.

It was a burden.

I realized that the burden of stress and accomplishment was what was weighing me down and keeping me from standing up and taking control of my own life.

In reality, it’s not my future that will determine the rest of my life, it’s what happens here and now.

Believe it or not, the rest of your life will never depend on these last four years.

In our last four years of being a kid, we don’t realize that we don’t need to choose what we do for the rest of our lives right here and right now.

Schools love to put stress on us to go to college. The more kids with a GPA above 4.0, the better they look.

Schools love to look good.

Schools love having a reputation.

Schools feed off of students’ constant crippling anxiety to feed into their SAT and ACT scores, and the scores they get on AP and IB exams.

The more you break yourself, the better schools do. The less sleep you get, the better schools do.

It’s rigged for a minority of students, and those of us who can’t compete drown in a suffocating mess of numbers and insecurities.

For schools, if your number isn’t high enough, you’re not worth their time.

So, as we are sitting here in our last four years, the only thing we can do is live our best lives.

The best way to secure happiness is to simply be a teenager.

When in your life after our last four years will you ever get the chance to put on a dress and go to a prom with that boy you’ve always thought was way too cute for you? He did ask you for a reason.

When in your life after our last four years will you ever have the chance to make the final, game-winning score and feel that unrivaled rush of dopamine and adrenaline as your team celebrates around you? Not all dreams come true in college.

When in your life after our last four years will you get the chance to struggle and grow in the stunning chaos of high school life while standing besides the same people you’ve known and cared about since elementary school? Some of them you may never have the chance to see again, no matter how many promises are made.

I can promise you now that nothing will compare to the feeling of spending dreamy summer nights besides the people you love the most in high school, and nothing beats the freedom of just being a kid and going out and doing stupid stuff on weekends or even in school itself.

So, in your last four years, go confess your love to that girl.

Stay out past curfew with your friends while buying pumpkins at Walmart.

Go watch a sunset from atop the press box. Make sure to bring the most artery-clogging food you can possibly find. At least, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Skip a day of school to go do something stupid. Go to the mall at 11 AM on a Tuesday just because you can.

Miss a day of homework. So what? Who will remember the one Spanish project you turned in a day late just because you didn’t feel like doing it? Mr. Solano can’t still hate you 30 years from now.

Life for many of us will change completely once high school is over, and you will never be able to get back these years no matter how hard you try.

You’ll regret not living life to its fullest now more than you’ll regret having a 95% instead of a solid 98%.

In our last four years, be a kid.

Stop listening to colleges and counselors tell you that your life is over if you don’t go to a four-year college.

You won’t work at McDonalds for the rest of your life if you take advantage of going to a junior college for two years. Absolutely no one will penalize you for not going to Harvard.

I thought I knew what I wanted, but as it turns out, I longed for so much more than just a number.

In your last four years, don’t waste it on that stifling number that schools love to give.

Cherish what time has been given to you, and these last four years will be the best of your life.