Moving Past Regret
Sashrika Pandey, Division 2, 10th grade #ws18e-s2d2

As I look to the past in my fifteen years of life, I often consider how my future would be affected if I changed just the mindset of my younger self. When I was moving from middle school to high school, I was motivated mainly by what others were doing in my grade. For example, during middle school band, I overheard my peers’ plans to join marching band in high school. Although I had heard it was a large time commitment, I joined anyways, at the expense of other activities. This peer pressure also caused me to avoid taking part in other diversions. In high school, I found myself unwilling to join clubs such as debate or business clubs because my circle of friends did not join them. For these reasons, I would change my mindset when I became a freshman in high school so that I would focus on pursuing my passion rather than doing what I thought was expected of me by my fellow students.

Looking back to my freshman year, I vividly remember the stress that the average student feels as they enter a new school. Personally, I was excited to engage in multiple activities, but at the same time, I held my reservations about the vast number of options available to my disposal. From debate to robotics, there were numerous pastimes calling to me, and essentially overwhelming me. Consequently, I followed the status quo, and hung onto the occupations that I had previously engaged in. About halfway through freshman year, I noted all the opportunities I missed and began to severely regret my inaction. Only now, in the summer after sophomore year, do I realize that I could have joined these clubs at any time. My flawed process of convincing myself that it was too late to join such activities inhibited me from noting that dedication and hard work play a larger role in your success in any undertaking as in comparison to time. This is why, at the end of my sophomore year, I applied to numerous positions and heard back from a surprisingly large amount of them. This experience made me realize that reaching out to others and pursuing any aspect of your passion is ultimately beneficial.

A key aspect of my previous mindset that I would change is my focus on the future of my education and my ultimate career. Unsurprisingly, I was terrified by the advent of questions concerning my major as I passed through the doors to my high school. From club to summer program, every application I encountered asked me to list my intended major. I knew that I was planning to pursue a career vaguely in the STEM field, but my decision remained undecided. I enjoyed the humanities and am a self-proclaimed bookworm to this day, but the draw of innovation in technology seemed more enjoyable to me in the long-term. Even then, I was unsure as to what I would state. I would advise my past self to take a breath and consider all possible areas of interest for my future. With the barrage of suggestions from my parents and teachers, I had essentially lost myself in the favor of listening to those who I considered wiser. I realize now that I am the only one that can be responsible for my future, which necessitates self-reflection. I would alter my mindset by encouraging my past self to pursue any and each part of my multi-faceted passion. Since high school is a volatile experience, the coming and passing of interests in common in all students, including me. However, closing myself of from these numerous passions rather than exploring them and determining which ones I enjoy the most was a defective method that I would definitely alter.

The most important part of this mindset change would be to encourage myself to remain persistent when activities that I pursued seemed to lead to a dead end. After applying to numerous programs and receiving stoic rejection letters, I had begun to lose hope. This compounding fear, coupled with the exhaustion of everyday schoolwork, resulted in a decrease in my curiosity. Instead of pursuing my interests, I would delude myself into thinking that the probability of my acceptance was close to zero. While it is true that being accepted was not a guarantee, I comprehend now that there is no point in remaining idle because that guarantees that this probability is zero. Every application that I could have put out did have a probability, however small, of success. By neglecting to apply at all, I destroyed my chances completely, which now appears to be a completely counter-intuitive line of thinking.

All in all, these changes require more self-reflection rather than external forces. While it is true that success is rarely guaranteed, not trying at all is the worst course of action. As I entered high school, I felt overwhelmed by both internal and external stress. I held my own reservations about being matriculated into what some obscure list deemed to be a good college, and the relentless bombardment of pressure from teachers and students only validated this point. I spent the first half of my high school career in a whirlwind of chaos. Instead of pursuing my passion, I was running from my fears. However, as I enter my junior year of high school, I am actively trying to convince myself that it is never too late to grow as a person by developing your interests. Looking back, I do regret not seeking other opportunities and remaining idle. Yet I am trying to grow from my flawed, fixed mindset by reaching out to any activity that mildly interests me. So far, I am much happier with the people and clubs that I have surrounded myself with. Instead of letting this regret inhibit me, I am learning from my past so I can be better prepared for the obstacles of the future.
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