Class of 2017

Emma Barber

They tell us to work hard

To do our homework

To get involved

To study hard

To get a job

To go out with friends


They tell us to volunteer

To get ten hours of sleep

To eat healthy

To exercise daily

To join clubs

To get a job


They want us to test well

To ace the quiz

To understand and not memorize

To have everything in on time


They say this is what colleges look for

And that if we want a job this is what we have to do

They say math and science is the way to go

And anything else doesn’t pay


What they don’t tell us is key.

They don’t tell us to take it slow

How growing up isn’t what it is cracked up to be

They don’t tell us to spend time with our family

They don’t tell us how to be good friends and community members

Or how to balance a checkbook

Or do our taxes


They don’t tell us that it’s okay not to understand

That it is not the end of the world if you fail a test

That your GPA doesn’t define who you are

And what is on paper doesn’t equate to your worth.


They don’t tell us how important it is to push ourselves

To do what we love

To explore what we want to learn

They don’t tell us to get up and travel

To go outside and enjoy the beauty around us.

To trust our gut

And how to communicate.


They didn’t even mention how short childhood is.

They didn’t let us fully immerse ourselves in it.

Instead we were taught from a young age to work harder

Aim higher and to be successful

That the end goal is to be smart and get into college

All while maintaining a well balanced life.

They told us what we should be but never explained how.


So what happens when we reach the end?

When there are no more tests to study for

And no more homework assignments due.

We no longer have to ask to go to the bathroom

But we are expected to go out on our own

To go to that college, rent that apartment, and land that job.


There’s no one there to tell us what to do.

How to do it.

Or why we should.

They didn’t tell me colleges would turn me down.

That my plan wouldn’t work.

I did everything they said to do.

I didn’t take it slow.

I rushed it.

I wanted nothing more than to get to the finish line.


But here I am at the end

I did what they said to do.

I did what I wanted to too.

I wish they would’ve mentioned some of these things.


Regardless I’ve learned what is important

And what is not.

I no longer accept what I am told

But rather learn and experience.

If they taught me anything

It is to listen to myself.