Chin Up, Sister


She shuddered as she looked at the sheet of paper with the various lines and columns. It mocked her. She had no idea how she should approach this.

There were too many choices.

There were too many combinations yet not enough at the same time.

How was she supposed to know what next year would hold for her?

What if she chose something she hated?

What if she overloaded herself?

She tossed it to the side, unwilling to face the decision she had to make. It wasn’t due for a while. Surely a little more time for her to think about it would make her feel better.

She couldn’t get the sounds of the other students from out of her head.

“I’m going to sign up for five A.P.’s next year. That would look really awesome on a college resume, right?”

She cringed. That sounded way too hard for her.

“…Doubling up in math or science. And all honors classes too.”

She shook her head and grimaced; that didn’t sound fun at all. Shouldn’t she be enjoying her time in high school, not making it all work and no play?

“…Definitely taking more art and performing arts classes no matter what. I can’t live without them.  Guess I’ll have no real study hall.”

She could feel her head pounding, her stomach churning, and a stray tear falling down her cheek. She knew she didn’t particularly have her heart set on anything nor found her passion at all. And even though she’d like to test her boundaries, she didn’t want to lose the only possible time for her to study. Maybe she could sacrifice the study hall if she made her core classes easier so she could take more electives? But what if it made her look stupid or lazy? She wanted to look like she was trying.

She quickly dried the lone tear and began to look through the course selection a second time.

Honors English, AP History, and AP Language? Would that be too much work?

College Prep Math and Science would give her time for more electives and to explore other activities. But all the “smart kids” were in Honors and Advanced Placement.

This class is a semester…this one is all year…what if I don’t like this class…but that one looks really cool…

She could feel her anxiety getting worse as it started clouding her mind. She could feel her body numbing as the words in the handbook began to look like fuzzy squiggles. Her hands were becoming sweaty and her breathing more rapid.

This was too hard and she didn’t want to do this anymore. This decision…couldn’t someone else do it for her?

“Hey, don’t stress it.” She felt a cool hand on top of hers. She didn’t recognize the girl, but she clearly went to the same school as she. Perhaps a classmate she was unfamiliar with or an upperclassman.

“It’s worrisome, I know. I’ve been there already. But a word of advice; don’t worry about what others think, this is ultimately for you. Do what you want. Pick what you like. Don’t pick something all because “everyone else is,” or not pick something because, “it’s not all that popular.” You’ll just make yourself miserable if you end up with classes you hate. And you’ll feel even worse if you pass up something you feel like you would have loved. Besides, your real friends will support you no matter what classes you choose. That’s what’s really important. So chin up, sister.”

The girl gave a warm smile and a comforting squeeze before disappearing just as quickly as she had appeared.

With the girl’s encouraging words, she looked at the handbook a third time and back to her course selection sheet.

Perhaps she was the one who was making the decision hard on herself. She knew her limits, what she was capable of, and what she was willing to try.

Taking a deep breath and finding a pen, she began filling out the form…