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It's Our Turn: Channeling my inner 5-year-old self

By Haley Seward

Playing dress-up and house are common pastimes for girls as they grow up. They raise a family of stuffed animals, and get dressed up to go to work on the other side of their bedroom. I was no exception, and it would seem I spent a large portion of my childhood looking ahead to the future.

I can recall running around my house and interviewing the members of my family for the newspaper I would hand out to them every day. At 5 years old, I had my whole life planned out. I would go to college, and spend my days writing. Only one thing was standing in my way – reality.

Now that I’m older, I found that the plan that seemed so concrete when I was 5 is no longer enough. I will still go to college, but where? I still enjoy writing, but what career will I choose?

Stressed that I had no plan for my future, I wondered how it could all seem so simple when I was younger. I thought back to those early years and tried to retrieve the sense of clarity I once had. When I finally found the answer, it seemed so obvious.

When I was 5, I did what made me happy. I didn’t waste my time with activities that didn’t interest me, or do things simply to please others. I also didn’t consider planning for my future a valuable use of my time. I trusted that everything would fall into place.

The carefree attitude I once had astonishes me now, as I have grown to be a person who plans out every detail and sticks to my plan at all costs. But I was desperate and willing to try anything.

With this new outlook, I went back to planning for my future. This time, I took a different approach and looked at classes that interested me, and then molded them into a potential career. Although my interests seemed to be scattered across the board, I was starting to narrow down the list of options.

Even though I am beginning to determine what I want to study, another common question for high school seniors is, “Where are you going to college next year?” I’ll admit I’m still unsure on this as well. In fact, with my sister going to college in Florida and the brutal winter ahead, I’m not even sure which state I’ll be in.

I was unprepared for the vast number of colleges that would present themselves as my possible home away from home. I also thought visiting colleges would rule out all but one candidate, but instead it left me with three contenders that all seem like suitable choices.

I am now in the last step of my decision. I have reduced all of my options for both areas of study and college until all that is left is the final choice. I channeled my inner 5-year-old in hopes that a revelation would come, but I had no such luck.

Maybe at age 5 decisions were easier because they didn’t really affect me. Selecting which picture to color, although it seemed like a monumental decision, didn’t impact my life. The choices that I make now are sure to affect me later on down the road.

Life got more complicated as I grew up, but it also got more interesting. There are opportunities that I never thought would be possible, and adventures I never thought I’d go on. My future may be unknown, but that is part of what makes it exciting.

I don’t play dress-up or house anymore; however, that doesn’t mean that I have the rest of my life figured out. I don’t know what I’ll do or where I’ll go yet, but in the back of my head I’ll always have my 5-year-old voice reminding me to do what makes me happy.

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Haley Seward is a senior at Jefferson High School in Alexandria. She is a student in the school’s Career Mentorship Program and is learning about newspaper journalism at the Echo Press.

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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.