by Nina Udomsak

I wanted to be the best. Perfectly the best.
That was my motto coming into high school, along with the idea that straight As, a resume of extra-curriculars, and a lively social life would surely be attainable.
With my history of winning spelling bees, receiving dozens of awards, excelling in outside activities, and always getting praise from teachers, I was destined for success in high school and beyond. This plan was perfect.
I guess a lot of my determination came from my parents, who bribed me with not only incentives and praise, but with the time, effort, and money they invested in me. With the endless paychecks put toward sports, drives to summer camps, and late-night runs to Staples for school supplies, there was no way I could let them down.
In my future they saw acceptance letters into Ivy Leagues and full-ride scholarships. The path was paved for me and all I had to do was stay on it. I had to keep my parents proud.
However, I found a different destination.
While my parents not only encouraged, but also expected me to continue putting school as a top priority, I found more importance in other things. I distracted myself with a boyfriend and the adrenaline rush of the teenage social life.
While I had enrolled in dozens of activities, from band to tennis to dance classes, I found myself lacking the desire to commit to any of them. Along with the lack of enough money and time, the primary obstacle was my lack of motivation.
While my mom, dad, and I believed that I had the ability to remain a straight-A student, my grades gradually fell from sophomore to senior year. The As began disappearing and my GPA began falling; this bothered my family, but apparently not enough for me to stop.
By the beginning of my senior year, I shut down; I felt like a failure. It was time to apply for colleges; time to decide the next four years of life; time to gather up the previous years of my life and submit to fate. It was a time when I began to realize how I had neglected my parents’ dreams and plans.
The confidence I had on the first day of high school was gone. I didn’t even apply to any Ivy League schools. I didn’t want the rejections that would only further damage what was left of my academic self-esteem.
My parents were disappointed and frustrated. My standards for myself had fallen along with my perceived perfection. I was no longer “the best.”
“Always account for variable change.” This was from the movie 21. High school has taught me to not make plans, but have goals. Plans yield expectations, and expectations only lead to disappointment.
Goals are flexible. They don’t arrange an outline to follow. All they ask is that you reach the finish line.
And through all this change, all the plans that I failed and the expectations I disappointed, I still reached one goal: UC Berkeley, the top public university in the nation, has accepted me. I will establish more goals.
While my parents worked to push me toward a brighter future, while I began my educational career with high achievements and standards, while I started ninth grade thinking that I could remain the perfect student or daughter, I am leaving high school a completely different person.
While I may not have turned out to be the best, I hope that my mom and dad are perfectly proud.