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Flashback to the year 2015 (which seems like a millennium ago) – I was a junior in highschool, playing a spring sport and working as a weekend lifeguard to save up some money for summer. Back then, everything seemed so simple and laid out, but one thing was for sure – I had absolutely no idea who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do.

When graduation hit, I felt lost. It seemed like everyone had their life figured out while I was floating in space. Did I want to go straight to college and major in something I had no passion for? Did I want to enter the workforce and start making enough money to move out of my parents’ place? Or maybe I needed to take some time off and really figure out what my next step was, but then how much time would that take, how would I afford it, and what was I even going to do?

All these thoughts circled in my head as I walked across the stage floor of DAR Constitution Hall. As I shook the hands of my teachers and principal of the last 4 years, I admittedly wanted to cry. I was so anxious, afraid, and unsure of what the future would hold. This was the first time I was going to be by myself, making decisions for myself.

I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that all these feelings are natural and that it’s okay to feel utterly lost and afraid; it’s a part of growing up. For the longest time, I thought I was a failure because I hadn’t accomplished things that other people my age had and I didn’t have as concrete a life as I had hoped.

I wish I could go back and shake the high school Annika and tell her to abandon the thought that things need to be done by a certain age. There will be time to get a degree, there will be time to make money, and there will be time to travel the world.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this Raptors: there are people who have graduated at 22, people who have had kids at 19, and people who have just entered school at 40. There is no direct timeline for success – the only pace we should be following is our own.

I know it’s easy to compare ourselves to our peers, especially with social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but I encourage you to let go of all expectations and ideals of what someone your age should or shouldn’t do. Not only will it open a whole new world of possibilities, but it will encourage you to go after what you really want.

I wish I could go back and tell the high school Annika what I’m up to now. I’d tell her that nothing will literally go according to plan, but that it’ll be okay and that I’ll be happy.

Annika La Vina

My name is Annika La Vina (pronounced like Monica without the M). I am 20 years old, and I am currently a new student at MC. I love all kinds of sports and am super into fitness - catch me running on the side of Rockville Pike on a sunny day! In addition, I love reading and writing and have been an avid writer since elementary school. I dabble in all kinds of major writing forms - fictional, academic and now, blogging!
After high school, I traveled and worked around the world for two years. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, but most of all, it was rewarding. Not only did I experience new cultures and meet tons of people, I also realized several things about myself - the most important being that I needed to go back to school.
It’s frightening - super frightening actually - to embark on a new stage in life. However, you’re not alone. Join me in my newest, weirdest, scariest, most exciting adventure yet - college!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I think everyone does need a plan, but know that in the scheme of life, we rarely end up where we originally intended – career, location, and personally. Sometimes and oftentimes, it is much better than we ever anticipated – think Forest Gump 🙂

  2. This was a great message–it’s what I would tell Anna a couple years ago too. Hopefully someone else like us intercepts this message at this time in their life. 🙂

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