SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — As a freshman entering high school, you might believe you are compelled to think about the future. Worries about what the coming years will be like and the feeling that there are ages until graduation probably torments your head.
It’s true that you need to start worrying about the future, but you don’t need to decide right now the way your life will go. Actually, that is the main – or should be – the main reason you are going to attend high school.
It’s not to get a diploma, be popular or be an overachiever. Your main goal should be to discover your hidden potential and exploit it.
Discovering your potential and the things you like won’t be an easy task. I have to agree to a certain extent with the pessimistic teens that claim school teaches you little in preparation for real life.
Some of the classes will be useless. Some of the teachers will be even more useless. Sometimes, you end up self-educating.
But you shouldn’t see this as a negative thing. Some of the most valuable lessons will be the ones you teach yourself
Contrary to what you have probably heard repeatedly, obtaining good grades is not really what matters in school. Of course, they are important and sometimes even crucial in determining your future, but they fail to measure someone intellectually.
Grades will be your bridge; they will serve you to get into a college to pursue a profession in which you can develop entirely. But what good is it to get good grades if you don’t have the ambition to actually grow intellectually within a field?
You need to find your passion and stick to it. If you like something, good grades will be just a byproduct of learning.
People believe that careers in medicine, law or engineering give you a certain prestige, and so in a preconceived way, many people will choose to go for those jobs without considering first if that truly interests them.
Keep your mind open to changes and other options. Eventually, rush decisions lead to college drop-outs or frequent career changes.
High school is the place to try new things and find what catches your attention.
Don’t limit yourself to what you learn in class. Learn to read for pleasure and develop a curious mind.
Famous scientists listed in your books were not forced to learn. They accomplished great things because they had inquiring minds and vision that drove them far more than getting a good grade.
They were curious to discover new things in the world and I’m sure they discovered their personal potentials while doing so.
Famous writers don’t publish novels because they need to pass a class. Writers use their pieces to transmit messages, to speak to the masses.
In the same way, artists are not bound to create masterpieces. A painting is not homework. For them, their work is their language – they do it because it’s rewarding to create something that expresses ideas.
Follow your intuition and don’t go along with the crowd.
It’s extremely important that you don’t get influenced in your personal aspirations. Don’t be afraid of trying what hasn’t been tried yet.
I won’t tell you that you can get anything you want as long as you work hard for it. Sadly, that sometimes doesn’t happen. But every time you try something new – whether you succeed or fail – you learn something new about your potential and how you should apply it.
Set positive and realistic goals and work to achieve them. It’s never too early to begin planning, but remember not to get frustrated.
Enjoy your first year and act like a sponge to absorb all that is possible.
If you have a discerning mind, you’ll have no trouble discovering your true calling in life on your journey through high school.
Oscar Ramirez is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.