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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

the Epic

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

the Epic

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

the Epic

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Atoms or Aristotle?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Valerie Shu
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

“Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

These were questions that had been posed to me on numerous occasions, yet my response was the same every single time: 

“I’m not sure yet,” I would sheepishly smile back.   

Like a shadow without a body, I had no sense of what would become of me. The one thing I was sure of was that I would not succumb to societal pressures. I was not going to take up a major just because my parents wanted me to, follow a path that was deemed to be the social norm or do something simply because it was expected of me. I couldn’t. I was too afraid of picking the wrong path at 18 and ruining the rest of my life. 

 I wanted to find a career that was authentically me — something that was intellectually stimulating and one that I could envision myself enjoying long term. So I tried new things, activities I swore I would never do and challenged the perception I had of myself. Yet, in my pursuit to find my true self, I found nothing at all. I did not have a single idea as to what passion was most important to me or where my life would take me. Each college application became a grueling test of my identity. Every essay made me question who I truly was or if I was making the right decisions. 

I had too many interests. I enjoyed solving integrals in AP Calculus BC and studying atomic theory in AP Chemistry and learning about various governmental functions in AP Government & Politics and analyzing “Macbeth” in World Literature and writing opinion pieces about societal issues for the Epic and designing graphics in Photo & Design and… 

I could never hone in on just one. I constantly crumbled under the weight of having to choose between my left brain and my right brain, juggling my quantitative skills with my creative endeavors. Trying to learn who I was became a game of tug of war, and I was the rope in the middle. 

 Growing up in the Bay Area seldom made my pursuit any easier. Many of my classmates came out of the womb declaring “I am going to become a software engineer! I am going to become a doctor!” Yet I was still a junior in high school saying that I did not know what I wanted to study. I felt alone in an environment where everyone was so sure of themselves; I had nothing to say for myself. Additionally, I knew I liked humanities, but I did not have many reference points to know what a future in this area could look like for me. I was afraid that if I only did STEM I would be curbing my potential in an area I naturally excelled in but, conversely, was too afraid to take risks in either field out of the fear of choosing the wrong activity and wasting what little time I had during high school to figure out what path I should follow in college. 

Fortunately, by learning from those who came before me, I found solace in understanding that the decisions I made at 18 would not define me or the trajectory of my life. In fact, many students change their majors multiple times during their college careers, meaning I was not bound to whatever I felt was right as a high schooler. I also learned the ridiculous expectations of picking a career or major while you are still in high school, having barely experienced life, is exactly that — ridiculous. The purpose of youth is to make mistakes and try new things to fully understand who you are and who you wish to become. It took time, but I was eventually able to internalize that it was ok that I did not have everything figured out. Clarity is something that comes with age and experience, something most teenagers, including myself, do not have.

 As I near the end of my high school career, I realize that I have an entire life ahead of me that can change drastically at any moment. Graduating is less of a conclusion but more so the true commencement of my life and journey to self-discovery.

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About the Contributors
Apurva Krishnamurthy
Apurva Krishnamurthy, News Editor
(she/her) Apurva is a senior and the news editor for the Epic. Aside from journalism, she enjoys discovering new music, watching horror and thriller movies, and reading.
Valerie Shu
Valerie Shu, Design Editor
(she/her) Valerie is a junior and Design Editor. She enjoys drawing, graphic design, Desmos and books.

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