Writing Contest: Semifinalist

Paving the Path

Caitlin McPherson, Walton-Verona High School, Walton, KY (Teacher: Mr. Jody Johnson)

“Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true, and our happiness assured.”—Ambrose Bierce

As I look to my future and hope for success, I realize that all I can guarantee lies ahead are my dreams. The future is defined as “the time yet to come.” It has no promises or guarantees; it just holds your hopes and your aspirations, your goals and your dreams.

Success is the first thing that comes to mind when I ponder my future. According to Webster, success is defined as “the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors,” or “the attainment of wealth, position, and honors.” But to me, success is something that is much deeper than attaining positions, honors, and endeavors. Success to me: it is a privilege. It is something you have to work long and hard for, and it isn’t achieved or defined when you buy your first Mercedes-Benz. Money is a part of success, but money doesn’t define it. And although money is something that we use to define the levels of success, I hope I will be able to say that I am successful no matter how much capital is in my bank account. Success is knowing that what you are doing is making a difference—an impact. As Americans, we automatically assume that the richest people in our world are the most successful. Movie stars, millionaires, pop artist, and authors are all people whom we label as successful. But what about teachers, mentors, firefighters, and policemen? The peoples’ lives that these careers have touched are countless, unlike money. Although I cannot say that I know what career path I will choose, the guidelines that I use to define success are things that will help me determine my future.

As I mature into a young adult, I think that now is the best time to start working towards my success. I have begun to plan for the future and weigh the economic benefits of the decisions that I make each day. Financial responsibility has always been something that I have valued. Through my after-school jobs, I have learned to manage the money I earn by having to make payments on my car and filling up my gas tank. Also, through community service, I have begun to realize how many people I can touch by doing a simple favor and giving just a little time to someone other than myself. I have already taken my first stride toward what I define as success and I’m hoping to make many more in the next few years.

As I weigh my options to achieve this success, I know that college has always been a dream that I have hoped to pursue. As a young girl, my parents always pushed me to succeed, and rewarded me when I did. Now, as a senior in high school, I hope that college will do the same. College will push me to be my best and allow me to better myself and further my education. College will also help me attain the skills that I will need to be a successful woman in the workforce. Next year, I plan to attend the University of Kentucky and enter a four-year learning environment. I plan to earn a degree in business. But many careers in this department interest me, and I hope college will help me narrow down my choices. I hope that college will teach me both the positives and negatives of each career that I am interested in and will help me decide what would be the best career for me. Although college will be a large investment, I believe that it will pay off in the future and will be the best economic plan to achieve the success that I hope to gain. I realize the sacrifices that I will be making are huge ones. But, in the end, when I receive my college diploma, I think that the time and money put into it will be well worth it, and not only financially. It will also help me be more productive. A college diploma is a necessity to women and men in the workforce. Many companies have stopped hiring candidates who don’t have a college degree and have started tossing their applications out. I know that when I go to apply for a job, I don’t want them to toss out my application and not even look at all the good qualities that I have because I don’t have a college degree. I would rather have them look at my resume and know that they are hiring a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a degree in business.

I do not look for success through my college degree only; I look for it in my family life as well. I want to have a lifestyle that is comfortable and pleasurable. When I finally get my feet on the ground after graduating from college and landing a secure, well-paying job, I hope to look for happiness in other areas as well. I plan to settle down and raise a family with the person that I will call my husband, but I want to help support our family comfortably without many worries. So, before I start my family, I want my college degree, and the choices that I make must help me gain a solid foundation that will support my family.

When I cross the finish line to my final destination, I want to be able to look back and say that I was a successful woman, mother, and friend. And I want to be recognized for the things that I have achieved and gained throughout my lifetime. That’s why, when I look to my future, and see that the race has just begun, I know that the choices I make must be the ones that will best suit me and help me attain success that I long for.