Happy New Year!


Kaitlin Swift

Ahead of the arrival of the new year, Kaitlin delivers what 2022 will mean for her


   “Five, four, three, two, one! Happy new year!” My mother yells along with the countdown on the television. The ball drops, and we blow our noisemakers. “Happy new year Ashley”, says my mother with a smile on her face

   “Happy new year, Mom,” I say with a slight smile. Another hour or so of celebrating and watching Times Square performances on our box tv passes, and I head off to my room to get some rest. I’ll be back to school tomorrow, preparing myself for the rest of my life at the ripe age of seventeen.

   I try to sleep, but my mind can’t help but wander. It’s a new year, full of new starts and new beginnings and new opportunities for me. Or at least that’s what I should be thinking. But all I can think about is the fact that I’m losing my youth.

   This is it. My final year of freedom before being forced to walk on one path for the rest of my life. There are so many routes I can take, but what would be best?

   I can’t walk left, for that would be running away: my family, my school, my job, my friends, my everything. I could leave some footprints, travel the world, and enjoy the last year of my childhood while I still have it. I could rent a motorbike, ride up to Seattle, and spend a year of my life traveling the world. Take a break from all the pressures being put on me. An off year would benefit my mental health, but what would I do once the year is over?

  I would run out of money and gas, have no job and there would be no one left to support me. I would be completely and utterly alone.

   I could walk right, where my mind truly wants to go. To let the creativity of my mind seep into the world, start my eternal canvas, to be truly free and let my mind wander wherever it wishes to go.  But people don’t respect artists, and I wouldn’t make enough to get by. An artist’s life is one of struggle, living in a tiny, cramped apartment with barely enough money to pay rent. I would be left at the same roadblock. 

   So I have to walk straight, on the path everyone wants me to go. Enroll in some big-name college and get some boring office job that everyone respects because it makes money. But that isn’t what my heart wants. Why should I have to be stuck in a job that gives me money but makes me miserable? 

   Or, instead of picking a path that has been created for me, why don’t I pave one myself? I could forge my own path, go to the left before going right. I could take a year to find myself before going onto a path I desire. Sure, not everyone will understand, but who cares?

   It’s my life, not theirs.

   I won’t make as much money as a doctor or a lawyer, but does that really matter? As long as I have enough money to get by, then that’s enough.

   It’s time for a new year full of new beginnings. I’ll finally get to go into the world and find myself.

   I don’t feel fully ready, but who is?

   It’s the dawn of my new life, and it starts today.