I’ve got a secret to tell you.
I’ve been playing violin for almost nine years. I began at the age of seven, excited to follow in the footsteps of my aunt, a professional violinist. I took private lessons, played in an extracurricular orchestra and, when it became available, I joined the orchestra at school.
You might be wondering what the secret is, so I’ll tell it: deep in my heart, I don’t actually like playing violin all that much.
People assume I do, probably just because I do it so much. I distinctly remember my friends getting mad at me in middle school when I wouldn’t play video games with them because I hadn’t finished practicing violin for two hours yet. But I didn’t really want to practice — I just guilted myself into it. I’d been playing violin for so long that I felt as if it would be some sort of sin if I didn’t practice for 2 hours a day.
I still play the violin. I did bring myself to quit my extracurricular orchestra, but I continue to take private lessons and play in the Chamber Orchestra here at Aragon. At this point, I know it isn’t doing me much good, but I do it anyway. Why, you might ask? Well, my primary motivation is college.
The fact is that even though violin isn’t my favorite thing to do, I have been playing it for many years and participating in annual progress-tracking evaluations, so when I eventually apply for college, it’ll be something worth putting on my resumé. It’s even worse because it isn’t even my parents pressuring me to keep playing violin — it’s my own sense of guilt and duty to the instrument. I can’t quit. And that’s that.
I know you all know how I feel right now. Every high school student has been pushed into some sort of extracurricular activity that they’re not particularly passionate about in the name of resumé building, so it’s not like my situation is anything new or out of the ordinary. It might be you signing yourself up for a prestigious internship you know will bore you to tears, or it might be your parents forcing you to take every SAT prep class available in the Bay Area (a sad situation that I’ve seen my friends endure first-hand). But my point here is to tell you that these things aren’t what you should be focusing on.
Recently, I discovered something about myself: I really, really, really love ice skating. I love to watch ice skating, I love to ice skate myself — the whole sport is just very appealing to me. For the past month and a half, I’ve been trying to go with my friends to the closest ice rink in the Bay Area at least every other weekend, and about a month ago, we worked up the courage to sign up for formal ice skating lessons.
My first lesson was on March 15th, and I adored it. Yes, I was just as awful at it as I remembered from my practice sessions, but I love skating so much that I went through the whole thing with a smile on my face. I know I’ve started too late to ever be spectacularly good at it, but I don’t care — I’m happy enough just being able to do something I love.
I sincerely believe that high school students are far too concerned with things that will get them into college and not at all concerned enough about doing things that bring them fulfillment and joy. I understand that it’s important to stick with things that will help you get into college, but there needs to be a balance between the things you do out of obligation and the things you do out of love.
I know ice skating isn’t what I’m going to do for a living — but it is making me happy, and that’s all that matters. So my final advice to you is this: if you’re thinking of trying something new, something you love to do, but that you know won’t practically get you where you want to go in life, do it. It might seem like a waste of time, but truly, there’s no better use of your time than having fun and doing what you’re passionate about.