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The Back-Up Plan

Give it all or give it up

Abbey Kegley, Staff Writer

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There’s a popular saying nowadays: “those that can’t do, teach.” This phrase in the most basic sense means that when people aren’t very good at what they do, they teach it rather than pursue it at a higher level.

Is there some validity in this saying? Sure. Does it completely invalidate every single teacher you’ve ever had? Absolutely.

I personally do not agree with this saying but maybe that’s just me trying to dismiss my own fears. As I go into college, my declared major is English with a concentration in Creative Writing, which Forbes has declared No. 10 on their list of 10 Worst College Majors.

When I tell older relatives or family friends this, without fail they ask, “Oh, do you plan to be an English teacher?” I politely laugh and say probably, never standing up for my aspirations. The truth of the matter is that I don’t want to be an English teacher; I just want to be a writer.

I’m a firm believer that if you want to be something, then be it. It doesn’t have to be a writer; it can be anything. It could be an engineer, or an actor, or a photographer, or a theoretical physicist. If there’s something that you’re good at that you want to pursue as a career, then do it.

And if you know what you want to do when you’re older, please understand how incredibly lucky you are. There are so many students who go into college with no idea what they want to do,  just having a general idea of what they like. That’s okay.

Freshman year I had my heart set on being a lawyer. Sophomore and junior year, I wanted to be an actor. As I grew and found out more about myself, I realized that all of the things that I was really passionate about- reading, music, theatre and film- were strongly based in writing. And as I studied in my AP English classes, I learned that if I don’t become a writer in any sense of the word, I’ll die.
(Sure, I’m being dramatic, but if you wouldn’t be willing to die for what you’re passionate about, then why do it?)

So here’s what I suggest for you as you get older and learn and grow: don’t have a back-up plan. When you figure out what you want to do and who you want to be, throw everything you have into it.

Focus your entire mind and body on making your dream a reality, push yourself to places you never knew even existed within yourself. Don’t ever just try to think it into existence, because I can tell you that you’re not going to get very far. Put in the research, put in the practice, reread and revise and throw away what you know isn’t good enough. Never give up on your passions and aspirations

Currently my main career focus is becoming a screenwriter or playwright. That may not be what I end up doing, but right now, I’m going to focus all of the energy I have into this dream. I don’t have a back-up plan, and I don’t plan on ever pursuing one. If I end up an English teacher, it’s going to be because that’s my passion, not because I’m not good enough.

Be the writer. Be the theoretical physicist. Be the cardiovascular surgeon. Be the machinist. Be whatever you’re passionate about, because you only get the chance once. Don’t settle for the back-up plan.

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The Back-Up Plan