Can I care now, please?

Image from Glamour.

I am tired of not knowing what I care about. 

When I first decided to write this article, I thought I had a clear idea of what I would say and where I wanted my words to go. But now that I have sat here and contemplated for days, I am no longer sure what stance I take. I originally intended to bully the student population into reassessing their values and force them to make more of an effort for the things they care about. But then I realized that I am a hypocrite and I have no clue what I, myself, care about. I mean really care about. 

I thought that I would at least have two or three examples I could write about to strengthen my claim that putting work into the things you care about pays off and fills some sort of hole in your soul. I was wrong. I started to really think about the things I devote my life to and what I tell myself I care about. And I realized that I don’t care nearly as much as I should about the things I say I do. And the things that I really do care about, I barely have time to explore or work towards. 

The thing is, this is how it is for most people my age. We give up so much of ourselves for things we think will have a bigger payoff in the end than they actually do. We spend hours on worthless projects we have no passion for because we are told that these are the things that will get us into good colleges and give us a better future. In return, we compromise and trade passion for status. 

This trade never ends, unfortunately. Even as we grow up and gain more control over our lives and our time, we start settling for less. The bare minimum becomes the bar for success and the things we spend our time on start to be more for survival and less for enjoyment. We trade jobs we actually love doing for jobs that will pay us a livable wage. And we accept this fate because this is what we have been told adulthood is supposed to be like. Adulthood is just taxes and jobs you hate. 

I do still care about things, though. I am still passionate and have wishes and desires and hopes. But in my mind, and in the minds of many others, these are secondary thoughts that I don’t have time to dedicate to. The mindset of high schoolers now is that free time shouldn’t exist and if you have it, you aren’t doing enough. Whatever “enough” is, anyway. This leaves us with little to no time to pursue interests we really care about. And as a result, these cares go unattended.

But some of us are lucky. Some of us find a way to merge what we are really passionate about with something that will benefit our future and build our resume. And that’s great! For a while. It’s great until we exhaust every last drop of excitement we have for that thing and doing that thing becomes more of a chore than an opportunity. And then the cycle repeats.

I realize that writing this will have no effect on the lives of people going through the same mental spirals as I am. I know that this loop of burning out and losing passion is nothing new and has been passed down from generation to generation. It’s normalized and accepted. But I hope that people are able to recognize the reasons behind what they do and still find ways to do what they love, on whatever scale that might be. 

Sarah Hamilton is a junior at Washington High School and has lived in the Bay Area for the majority of her life. This is her first year working on The Hatchet and she hopes to write about her opinions and cover global topics. She is a captain of the girls tennis team and works at the bookshop in town. Sarah is an avid reader of novels by Haruki Murakami and loves going to concerts and exploring San Francisco and Berkeley. She hopes to attend college on the East Coast and major in English with a minor in economics or publishing.

1 thought on “Can I care now, please?

  1. The most important thing for me is family. That wasn’t true earlier in life. But it is now. That’s why i care about my grand kids, even the teenagers!

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