Sunday, January 18, 2009

Life Plans…at 17? At 23?

Over Christmas, I went back to Pittsburgh to spend the holiday with my family. During those short five days, I managed to spend a few hours going through boxes of old high school and college material I had, for some ridiculous reason, saved: binders, notebooks, folders, etc. As I rooted through these materials, I came across one particularly hefty binder marked “11th Grade Portfolio.” I remember this project well. In Mrs. Seiffert’s junior-year AP English class, each student compiled his/her writings for that year and reflected upon them. Of course, I had taken the project beyond the course requirements and included writing from previous years and from other classes, making my binder by far the largest of anyone in the class.

Now, nearly six years later, I opened the cover of the binder and came upon the opening pages of this project: a grand “Mission Statement” and “Five-Year Plan” that we were to write as part of our preparation for prosperity and success. Of course, very few 17-year-old high school juniors have any idea what they want to eat for lunch next period, never mind what they want to do with the rest of their life. Still, in neat bulleted items, I had diligently my various aspiratios of what I hoped to own, do, and become.

Here are a few of the items I listed:

  • (I aspire to become) Well-respected: earn and maintain the respect of my peers both in school, in my future career, and in social situations that I will encounter
  • (I aspire to [do]) Travel
  • (I aspire to have) a consistent exercise routine
  • (I aspire to have) enough money to be comfortable
    (I aspire to have) loving, loyal, lifelong friends
  • (I expect to become) a friend
  • (I expect to become) an editor
  • (I expect to become) a writer

How on earth was I so prescient at 17 years of age? It is eerie to think that these are goals I have either already obtained or am currently working to obtain.

Likewise, we had to draft a five-year plan that same year: a plan for the next and last year of high school, and then for the first four years after that. Again, I somehow had magical predictive powers back when I was 17. My senior year plan went almost exactly according to plan: I earned straight A’s, I decided what friendships I should work to maintain, I narrowed down the subjects I would want to pursue in college, I found and applied to colleges that matched my interests, and I won scholarships that enabled me to attend the college of my choice.

The next year did not follow my “plan;” according to what I wrote, I was supposed to take a gap year to travel to South America to become fluent in Spanish. Instead, I jumped straight into the third year of my plan and carried out my own self-directions: earn high academic status, “establish a regular exercise regimen,” create a plan to take numerous writing courses, and make new friends while keeping in touch with the old ones. Sophomore year stayed true to form as well, as I “gained work experiene through an internship,” upheld my academic status, mapped out my major, and worked on renewing my scholarships.

Ironically enough, I even factored I the possibility that I would study abroad my junior year—which I ended up doing. How could I have predicted myself so well? It’s not as though I had posted this plan on a wall somewhere and consulted it every time I made a decision. I only wrote it to fulfill an assignment…in 11th grade!

Incredible, that I might actually know myself so well.

1 comment:

ClintonJohn said...

Life never turns out the way you thought it would when you were 17 huh? Good goals though at such a young age! Mine were probably- get laid, use proactive and etc:)