Class of 2018. Generation Z. The 2000 babies. Those are only a few titles that are given to the generation of individuals who will be remembered for far more than those labels. As it is officially summer and we are all out of school, it’s time for us to reflect as we prepare to enter our adult lives. There are many different directions to go in after high school, and despite what is considered traditional or ‘expected,’ I have no doubt that many of the people I have been lucky enough to meet will do great things. As a way of both reminiscing the past and looking towards the future, I interviewed individuals to reveal the honest struggles this generation’s teens are enduring as they transition to adulthood and figure out who they want to be.
Adolescent: What are your plans for after the summer?
Bryce: I’m going to Columbia College Chicago to study design!
Vveronica: I’ll be moving to London to study Arts & Sciences at University College London.
Maneca: I’m going to Ohio State.
Tony: My plans revolve around joining the Marines, going to college, then marrying my girlfriend, Maneca.
Jenny: I’m going to community college.
Adolescent: Are these plans what you anticipated? Did your original plans change?
Bryce: This has been my plan for so long.
Vveronica: I never really had an original plan, I’m just sort of seeing where I’ll end up. I’d hoped to do a course more directly related to my interests though. I was also considering doing a gap year and traveling with charity organizations.
Maneca: At the last minute I realized how much I wanted to leave my hometown, but it was too late to apply to out-of-state schools.
Tony: My plans haven’t changed much since freshman year. I realized I wanted to become an English teacher after… I shadowed my old English teacher.
Jenny: My plans were unknown at first, and I was just going with the flow of things. But I soon realized if I wanted a better future... college was the way to go.
Adolescent: Was it hard to decide what path you would take after high school? What influenced your choice?
Bryce: It was easy. Design has always been my passion. My only influence was how much I love it.
Vveronica: It was very hard. I come from a family of doctors and engineers, so I was meant to continue the medical tradition in the family. I remember when I first started mentioning film to my parents, my dad actually told me I’d be back home in ten years begging at the doorstep because I’d be broke and crushed in Hollywood. That hit me really hard.
Maneca: I knew my path. I don’t mean to support a stereotype, however, I come from an Asian family. If I didn’t go to college I’d be thought of as a disappointment—that’s what I felt.
Tony: Everything definitely felt natural and meant to be. I was interested in the Marines because [of] some family members that have served. Also, after learning about the ways it can help your family, this choice interested me immensely.
Jenny: Yes, because I did not know what I wanted for myself. I wasn’t sure of my passions. My parents recently convinced me to work in the medical field, and I was like “Why not? Seems interesting.”
Adolescent: Do you have any regrets? Anything you wish you could change about your high school life?
Bryce: I was a worse person in the early years of high school—I was a real jerk sometimes. Now I’m more educated and a better person.
Vveronica: Yes! A few, actually! I’m bitter at myself for not pushing the gap-year plan through with my parents and teachers, who all said that if I followed through with that I’d be “wasting potential.” Another is that I never asked my first crush out or told him my true feelings. I also would’ve loved to perform one of [the plays I wrote] on stage.
Maneca: I regret not taking high-level classes. I feel like sometimes I took the easy way out.
Tony: I wish I would have applied myself more in academics my first two years of high school. Also, I had a passion for volunteering, [but] I also had a job and was not able to partake in a lot of the events that I wish I could have.
Jenny: I wish I didn’t slack off and took my classes seriously. Socially, I wish I stayed away from people who didn’t really care about me.
Adolescent: How do you plan to spend time with your friends before the summer ends?
Vveronica: It’s pretty much all I’m doing! I think we should make and immortalize memories while we can.
Maneca: I hope to take a trip with all my friends! So far, when I’m not working, I’m pretty much spending as much time as I can with my friends—whether it be playing PubG online or simply calling each other and not even talking—just knowing they are there.
Tony: I want to spend my summer going on adventures with friends [and] not have any regrets. I just want to spend long days taking in everything with them. I am determined to make this the single most amazing summer to date.
Adolescent: What’s something you really want to do before summer is over? Before it’s off to the “real world”?
Bryce: I guess just keep working on my art, and maybe travel with some friends.
Vveronica: I definitely want to travel! I want to make out with a stranger in Paris, finally start my screenplay, finish my poem collection, go skinny dipping in the ocean… Just go wild for a while. Be young and live a little while I can.
Maneca: Spend time with my friends and find an apartment! I’m living off campus, so it’s causing me a lot of stress.
Adolescent: What’s the thing you will miss the most about high school?
Bryce: The [designated] time for eating.
Vveronica: Definitely my friends. I’ll also miss the security I feel now. Also, a house to come back to.
Maneca: Having a specific time for everything, counselors who would help me, and a close group of friends. The structure of college is so different from high school, so I won’t feel as secure and close to people.
Tony: I will miss my teachers so much. They have all left an impact on me in so many different ways, and I will be forever grateful. I also will miss seeing my friends every day. My school has such a unique environment that will greatly be missed.
Jenny: In college I think I won’t be as friendly with the professors because there are so many people in their classes.
Adolescent: What’s your favorite high school memory?
Bryce: Two friends and I were sitting [at] her house around 3 AM, and the smallest things made us laugh. Like, her dog simply barked and we giggled for 10 minutes. I loved that night.
Vveronica: One would definitely be spending the summer [at] a NYU high school program. Another memory is when my friend [and I] went biking and we got super lost! We ended up buying strawberries and eating them in a field until it got dark. I don’t remember how we even got home… Uber? Wait, what about the bikes? That night remains a mystery…
Tony: My first kiss with my girlfriend [Maneca.] I will cherish [that] for the rest of my life.
Jenny: Falling in love, even though I eventually got heartbroken.
Adolescent: Do you have any fears about the future?
Bryce: That I’m not actually good at my art… I won’t be successful, and I’ll succumb to anxiety.
Vveronica: I’m scared of loneliness and failure. Also, the idea that I won’t end up finding a purpose with what I’ll be studying.
Maneca: Living away from home, taking care of myself, having to get out of my comfort zone to make things happen, being an adult.
Tony: I fear missing my friends and family. Also, the fear that no matter what I’m stuck in a contract for the next four years of my life.
Jenny: I fear becoming alone, handling things by myself, and losing people I was once close with.
Adolescent: What’s something you’re looking forward to?
Bryce: The people and freedom. I feel like my school (Columbia College Chicago) is where, for the first time, I can be unapologetically myself.
Maneca: Feeling secure with myself and feel like I know what I’m doing without second-guessing.
Tony: I am most certainly looking forward to the traveling that comes along with being in the Marines.
Jenny: I look forward to growing and developing my own lifestyle and focusing on things that I want to do for once.
Adolescent: What is something you’d like to say to everyone who has supported you over the years?
Bryce: Thank you. Some of you I no longer talk to, but thank you for being on this journey of self-betterment and for helping me become the person I am today.
Vveronica: I could definetly write a long, cute, sad, and gratifying speech, but sometimes the simplest things are worth a thousand words. I just want to genuinely say thank you. I mean it with all my heart.
Maneca: Thanks? I love you…? I’m not good under pressure, but they know what I feel.
Tony: Thank you. I would never be the person I am today without the amazing people in my life. I hope everyone does what makes them happy.
Jenny: Thank you. Thank you for sticking with me. I know I’ve been rough to deal with, and I’m sorry. But you stayed. And I’m so thankful for that. I couldn’t ask for anyone better. I hope we will always stay in contact. Please don’t forget me.
Thank you to everyone I interviewed for sharing your stories. To quote Tony: “I hope this motivates someone to do what they want to do. Because there is no greater purpose than living in the moment and following what you’re meant to do.”