The reality of being a senior

As senior students approach graduation, the end of their high school years, they face uncertainty regarding their future.
Despite senior year being touted as the easiest, students are expected to tackle questions about their future.
Despite senior year being touted as the easiest, students are expected to tackle questions about their future.

Being a senior can make you feel many different ways. Since I was a little kid, I just wanted to grow up so fast. But now, after I’ve finally reached the point I’ve been looking forward to my whole life, it can feel overwhelming.

While I can’t speak for the entire senior class, many of my friends have had similar experiences. We have a lot of pressure and expectations put on us. We’re expected to know what we will do for the rest of our lives. If you don’t want to go to college or do not have your future job set out, others look down upon you, which can also make you feel like you are letting your childhood self down in a way from others’ expectations and even your own.

Overall, senior year is supposed to be our easiest year, but it can be the most mentally challenging.

It is very common for seniors to stress about their lives after high school, but graduating symbolizes a new beginning and perspective in life which can be amazing for character development. In a few weeks, we’ll close a long chapter of our life to open another.

The idea is very exciting yet terrifying. We don’t know how our lives will turn out. We don’t know if the job or college that we have been working towards our whole lives will fail or succeed. The atmosphere of uncertainty can feel crushing. Amidst all the stress that comes with graduating and deciding what path to take, it feels like we rarely have a second to breathe and think deeply about our future.

For those reasons, we should cherish the times and memories we’ve made during our final years in high school. Prom and Grand Night were both highly anticipated highlights of senior year. There are occasions for us to celebrate, admire and appreciate. It feels like a reward after all the challenges we had to overcome and the effort we had to put in to get to this point.

We should give ourselves some credit for making it through 12 years of school. It is important that we remain proud of ourselves for our accomplishments and avoid getting too wrapped up in our futures and “what ifs.” 

Whether or not we succeed in achieving our dreams after high school, it is important to remember our past accomplishments.

“What next?” is the big question all seniors have to tackle.

I had the opportunity to interview fellow graduating seniors and hear their concerns. Many are undecided, unsure of what exactly they want to do with their future.

Senior Farah Alsibai is one of those students. She is unsure whether to go to a community college or university and doesn’t quite know what she should be doing career-wise. 

A career in the medical field appeals to her because she is passionate about helping others. Especially after personally witnessing the dedication of healthcare workers helping their patients.

On the other hand, Alsibai wants to become a florist because she loves seeing the beauty in flowers and wants to share it with others. Alsibai expressed that, as someone unsure of the direction she wants to go after graduating, being surrounded by others who voice more certainty is intimidating and can cause stress.

Other students have concrete plans for the future. Senior Andrea Herrera shared her aspirations of majoring in psychology at college to become an applied behavior analysis therapist. She also wants to dual major and earn teaching credentials. 

Her ambition stems from her longtime passion for working with and helping children. Herrera expresses that her goal growing up had always been to help others, with less emphasis on salary. She feels that she can make an impact by being an ABA therapist and teaching. 

While Herrera herself has a clear path cut out for herself, she agrees that there is a lot of pressure on seniors who haven’t found a similar sense of direction because they don’t want to let anyone down or embarrass their families.

On the bright side, VNHS clubs and classes offer students inspiration for future careers. Seniors Jonathan Cristobal, Loya Gaytan and Zarrabin Haider are all inspired by the skills program and auto shop program at school. 

All three want to major in similar fields because of this program. 

Cristobal wants to go to college to study auto and work as an engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; he is also inspired by family members in this field and aspires to follow in their footsteps. 

Gaytan plans to go to college and major in mechanical engineering. She plans to use this major to be an architect or technical drafter, her passion stems from her love for design. 

Haider aspires to major in electrical engineering. Positive experiences in the auto shop have contributed to his decision. In the auto shop, Haider’s experience of competing in mobile electronics sparked a newfound interest in that field. 

Our passions and goals can come from anywhere at any time and this can lead us to bigger things. Knowing this, we shouldn’t stress too much about setting our goals right away because it can take time and effort to find our passions.

Our passions for the future all have deeper meanings; people have dreams and goals but there is always a bigger picture that helps them find that goal within themselves. Senior Kimberly Perez shared how she relates to this experience. Perez still doesn’t know what college she wants to go to, but aspires to major in biology and become a dentist. 

As for why, Perez’s ambitions are fueled by a love for her community: “A lot of Hispanics have unhealthy teeth and they get infections from it so I want to help my community.” 

The idea of helping her community while connecting with patients in need of dental care drives her passion to great heights. It is a beautiful reason why people enter the medical field to help patients. Perez’s longtime love of horses and horseback riding has also led her to consider becoming a racer.

A lot of graduating students have passions, but choose not to pursue them. Senior Mia Sherwin plans to go to college, major in psychology, earn a PhD and become a psychiatrist. While this path aligns with her interest in psychiatry in the athletic sports field and her admiration for her mother, a psychiatrist, her true passion is to go into the film field because she loves films and movies. 

Sherwin believes seniors do not pursue their true passions because they may not be confident about themselves, on top of being concerned about being able to make a reliable salary. She relates to concerns about financial stability, a critical point to consider especially if one plans on starting a family in the future. 

Students’ true passions are often revealed when money is taken out of the equation. Instead of asking what their passion is, I asked, “What would be your passion if money didn’t matter?” Seniors must grapple with the unsettling nature of not knowing how their future might play out in the adult world.

This concern is especially pronounced in students from low-income backgrounds; in many cases, an emphasis on money overwhelms the possibility of pursuing a passion.

I plan on going to community college for two years and then transferring to a university to get my master’s degree in psychology. I aspire to specialize in child therapy; I am passionate about this because I love working with children and helping people. 

Knowing that helping children work through their struggles and traumas can make a change in their lives drives my interest in the field. Everyone deserves someone to talk to in their lives. I hope to be that person for children so they can grow up with a healthy mindset and grow into strong adults.

Another passion of mine is art. I especially love recreating nature and beautiful things on paper. I feel being able to work with both would be amazing.

All in all, it’s true seniors have to deal with a lot of struggles and stress as graduation comes closer. But one way or another, we will graduate and we will succeed. We should all give ourselves a pat on the back for the hard challenges faced throughout these bittersweet years. 

Just because you’re undecided on what you want to do after high school does not mean you are behind or will struggle. We should try to follow our passions and goals; even if we doubt ourselves, we will never be able to truly know what we are capable of if we give up on our dreams.

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About the Contributor
Alaina Wicks
Alaina Wicks, Staff
I love music and drawing. The bright beautiful colors in nature are something that I enjoy recreating on paper. We are surrounded by trees, birds, flowers and life, which can remind us how beautiful mother nature is. This is why I like to go for walks while listening to music and observing my surroundings, so I can draw them later on and be grateful for those moments I experienced. Music is an amazing thing where people can express themselves and I love the passion you can hear in people's music. It inspires me to be creative and passionate every day. If you stop and look around you, you can realize you miss many beautiful things. Drawing and recreating helps me cherish every moment more.
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