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My sister never went to college. In high school, she was always one to get distracted from her schoolwork and fall into something artistic. Her final grades made universities laugh, and her test scores were far below average. Nevertheless, she is the most hardworking person I know, and she’s someone who’s inspired me to pursue what I love, while ignoring all of the voices that tell me otherwise.

Up until a few months ago, I experienced severe anxiety attacks daily. Along with this, I would have reoccurring nightmares consisting of me being trapped in a black box with no way out. I was never sure what the dream meant, but I guess it was a representation of the way I was feeling inside. With my senior year quickly creeping up on me and the constant talk of college and grades- I was completely overwhelmed by the fear of my future, and I had no room in my mind for anything else besides that fear.

Everyday at school I encounter the same people who freak out over SATs and college applications- as if their whole entire life is dependent upon a few documents. I deal with the comments from teachers that say if I don’t do well in these four years, my existence would be a failure. And everyday I would go home wondering “Is everything I’m hearing true?”

There’s no getting around the fact that education is important in our lives- but to what extent? I’m a firm believer that every person on this planet has a different purpose to fulfill, so why do schools put so much pressure on every student to become a scholar? I’m tired of the people who are supposed to be the ones building us up, being the same ones who act as dictators, telling us what we’re supposed to be doing to be successful.

There are no two people exactly alike, and I think it’s become a major problem in some schools to force students to conform to an academic standard, rather than find who they are and what they feel called to. If my sister had listened to white noise telling her she needed to be a scholar to be successful, she would have been settling for a life she didn’t truly want.

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Natalie Santos
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Dreamer from Miami

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