It's a Big Deal

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"Always shoot for the stars," they say. So many kids, some out of ambition, many out of fear, rocket towards those very stars. Academics and filing college resumes becomes kids' whole lives. Especially now, when my AP and honors classes get harder, as my extracurriculars demand more and more of me, I find myself telling my friends and family "Sorry, I'm busy". Sure, some will say, "Oh, you missed a birthday party or two. Big deal."

Yes, it is a big deal.

It's a big deal when put together with every little thing we kids have to do in order to survive in this "highly competitive world you kids are growing up in," that adults tell us is out there. It's a birthday party this week, to be made up at a later date. Then, it's another the following week. It's a poetry reading. It's a trip to the city with my friends, friends I only know in the context of school, in the context of the same academic goals I pursue myself. Sometimes it's just a day at my best friend's house. But I and many other kids put every waking moment into what we can do for ourselves in the future, but at what cost?

For every adult telling me to reach for the stars, there's someone who tells me to be a kid. These are my high school years. I have four of them out of my whole life, four years when I'm young, free and smart enough to really enjoy it. On these holidays and random days off from school, guess where I am? It's not at that birthday party. It's not at the reading or in the city. My precious hours, my precious days, my precious years are spent behind the podium, awaiting the first word of the debate. It's spent in a chair, in front of a computer, researching, writing, composing, e-mailing. It's spent with my eyes on a textbook or a practice book or a study guide. It's spent on my mark, about to get set, go.

In pursuit of happiness, sometimes we kids must realize exactly what it is that we sacrifice now for later, and what we sacrifice is never coming back.


With a Perspective, I'm Gabe Finger Gangoso.

Gabe Gangoso is finishing his junior year at Skyline High School in Oakland where he is the debate team captain.