With crisp autumn mornings and warm afternoons, it must mean it’s that time of year again: the start of the new school year.
Even though I graduated high school back in 2009, it doesn’t feel that long ago when I was strutting down the halls of Thornton Academy as a blank canvas ready to paint the rest of my life. Some of my friends knew what they wanted to do, whether it was going into business, a trade program or apply for college, but most didn’t. I was one of those kids that found a passion early on. I found an odd comfort in the student-run TV studio, oftentimes skipping lunch and popping in between classes to work. Most of my free time was spent crafting ideas for the next TV show or my next political interview on my public affairs show, “The Issue.” Looking back, I missed a lot of dances and social events – some might have considered me an outcast for my complete lack of being a part of the typical high school social apparatus. While I could point to my complete disregard for “playing the game” back in elementary school leading the charge for instituting uniforms through a petition drive between the monkey bars, high school, for me represented a way to find myself professionally and not socially.
There are those that would give advice to have fun now, while you can, to live up every moment from homecoming to prom because you always have the rest of your life to figure it all out, but I offer a different take. While hanging out with friends and dating might seem like the most important thing, if you put in a lot of time and energy into discovering your passion, I promise that you will find it that much more fulfilling, while at the same time will be less stressful down the road when you are pressed to figure out more real-world issues. Trust me, you do not have an abundance of time. Soon you will be walking over the stage to accept your diploma and wonder where the years went.
Life is all about choices and it took college for me to figure out that I was sacrificing a personal life in order to move forward in other areas more quickly than my peers. That for, me is a choice. I wouldn’t have gotten to this point in my life – whether it be hosting informative TV shows to representing nearly 9,000 people in the Maine House of Representatives at 21 – if I hadn’t become fully immersed in high school in my own way. That could mean something different to each person. That might mean volunteering at the local soup kitchen through National Honor Society, running for student council, performing in school plays, trying out for a sports team or even starting your own video production business, as I hear some have done. Just find something that interests you and put everything you have into it. It might come more naturally than you think. For those of you who have trouble finding an opportunity, make one for yourself. Don’t sit around and wait to live your life, just go out and do it.
What has always been helpful for me is to think about how I will reflect on the present in the future. What will I think about this time 10 years from now? Will I regret I didn’t do that internship or take that job or strive for an A in that class? You probably won’t even remember the last name of the person you are dating in five years, but how you choose to get involved will affect the rest of your life. You shouldn’t have any regrets as long as you follow your heart and put 110 percent of you into whatever it is you are doing.
Let this newness of going back to school be a catalyst for you to try something new. Join a new club, organize a new event, go harder for that goal and live in your truest light even when those around you might make it seem like you can’t. Once you find your passion, you will never work a day in your life; it might be hard at times but you will feel in your soul that it’s what you were put on this earth to do.
Justin Chenette is the state representative in Saco. Follow Justin online at justinchenette.com, facebook.com/ justinforsaco, and twitter.com/justinchenette.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco