Senior moments: You don't have to grow up to come alive

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I wonder how many times throughout the past 13 of my 17 years I've been asked what I want to be "when I grow up."

This question has been posed by family members, schedule requests and enough essays to turn into a short novel.

I love discussing what I want to be when I get older and finding out what other people want to do with their lives, but I don't understand why our society pushes for children to "grow up" and get their lives planned out. Maybe adults want to ensure the next generation is prepared to face the world. Maybe people asked them this same question, so they think growing up is a normal and necessary stage of life. But I don't think it has to be.

I think it is possible to get older without having to "grow up." It seems like grownups fall into patterns of monotony and cynicism. Old children believe things are possible and work to make them happen.

I want my life to make a positive impact on this world. I don't want to have lived in vain. One of my favorite quotes is by Howard Thurman, who said, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

I want to be one of those people who radiates joy and whose ability to be alive is contagious. It's asking what makes me come alive and having the courage to pursue those answers that is so exciting, and a bit daunting.

I have lots of ideas about how I would like my life to go. I have always wanted to be a teacher. I plan to major in secondary education in college, to become a high school English and religion teacher. I want to spread the passion I have for the power of words and God to other young people and help them to believe in how beautiful they are. I would also like to write. I want to be a wife and mother and a missions photographer.

These are a few of the things I have found that, just in thinking about them, make me come alive. I have no idea how they will play out in my life, but I'm not so sure planning is always right. Life's an adventure, and I don't have to have my whole life planned out right now -- or ever, as far as that goes.

Maybe life is not so much about reaching the point of being "grown up" and having a plan, as it is about using the moments we're given each and every day to come alive.

Senior Mia Pohlman is writing a monthly column chronicling her final year at Perryville High School.

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