There’s something very absurd about the concept of almost being done with high school. My fellow seniors already know all about that. This entire summer, I couldn’t have a conversation with any adult without the inevitable two questions: “Where are you going to college” and “What are you majoring in”. Eek.
Thankfully, I’ve figured out my answer to the second question.
This past summer, I had an opportunity to go to Washington DC through a scholarship provided by the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation created by Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today. The opportunity was awarded to one young person from each state passionate about journalism.
After hearing about the scholarship, I almost didn’t even apply. The idea that I’d even be considered to be the best in the state at something was laughable (and still is), and my chances were so slim that I almost convinced myself it wasn’t even worth it. But for whatever odd reason, I decided to go for it.
Right off the bat, I knew this was going to be an experience for the books. It started with me running through Reagan National Airport completely disoriented and hopelessly lost after flying for the first time by myself. But I was quickly united with three of my 51 comrades and driven, in a limo no less, to one of the nicest hotels in the DC area.
We woke up early. We wore stuffy clothing. We walked for miles a day in DC heat. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
The ability to see real working people interested in the same things as I am and making it a profession was so inspiring. I was able to sit in on a taping of Meet the Press with David Gregory and see what the reality of behind the scenes production at a nationally broadcasted television program is. (Sorry to disappoint, but the “windows” with the sunny view of the Capitol building are fake.) I shook hands with Bob Schieffer of CBS News and got a behind the scenes tour of the offices at USA Today. To be honest, it still feels like a dream.
Because I had such an amazing time, I can lift a load off my shoulders and say with confidence that I know what I want to be when I grow up. And it’s not a ballerina-astronaut-explorer-princess like when I was 3.
So here’s my advice to you: Shadow an adult with similar interests for a day. Get an internship. Apply for scholarships in which your only friend is sheer dumb luck. Find out what makes you happy and that you’d want to do for the rest of your life. It’s the perfect time to find your passion, so go for it.