Opinion: I feel behind in life

Mason Williams, Staff Writer

There are 11 months until I turn 18 years old. With college applications and my eighteenth birthday approaching, I’ve been reflecting on my life thus far. I realize that most of my days have been a waste of time, just sitting at home or scrolling through my phonetime that my peers spent participating in numerous activities outside of school where they developed real-world skills.

 I have yet to acquire many of these real world skills, like the expert social skills which come from being involved in extracurriculars and having to handle different personalities. Simply put, I lack life experience. I’m worried that not being able to do these things is going to make my time in college difficult. I feel I’ll have trouble making friends or not be at the same mental level as everyone else. This could even translate to failing to get a decent job, where I will feel like a failure in life.

A major reason I don’t participate in activities like my peers is because I never knew that they existed. None of my close friends are the types of people that join clubs or volunteer. My siblings and parents never pushed me to take up any hobbies. I played recreational and club soccer in elementary and middle school but I could have been doing Quizbowl, another more meaningful extracurricular which I recently found out my peers had done. 

I’ve noticed that many students at Westview don’t have that problem because their parents are constantly pushing them to pack their schedules full of after school activities. But the missing pressure to do so puts me at a disadvantage from some of my peers. I was kept in the dark about all the amazing opportunities which would help me grow as a person.

The COVID-19 Pandemic also affected the activities I participated in during my freshman and sophomore years. Being isolated from my peers blocked any opportunities from presenting themselves. At least that’s how I felt, but while I sat at home watching Tik Tok, assuming everyone was doing the same, clubs were still meeting virtually and many groups volunteered to aid frontline workers or help people get vaccinated. It’s frustrating now that I did nothing, but yet again, I didn’t know what I could be doing. 

So when my junior year came along, I decided I would actively seek opportunities. I went to Club Rush and the Electives Fair after one of my teachers suggested that we get more involved, to become more “interesting people.” She explained that those are the types of people who are ultimately more successful in life. 

Once I was there, the same thing happened at every little booth. I listened to a thirty-second spiel and earned a piece of candy and a flier. However, I still knew very little information about what the clubs actually did. I only understood the most basic functions, but it wasn’t enough to make it sound moderately interesting to me. 

I decided to try another way to learn about interesting activities. Talking to anybody I’m around to seek details about what in their lives has proved beneficial. Despite facing the slight discomfort of social anxieties, just asking about how my classmates’ previous day was gave me hints to all of the hobbies they have. Finding out that these people I see everyday are involved with some amazing clubs and activities was surprising. 

So far I’ve learned that my peers participate in things like Mock Trial, Boy Scouts, National Charity League, Poetry Club, ASB, Key Club, Best Buddies, Link Crew and so many more that I didn’t know existed. I even found out that more obscure sports like archery and horseback riding are practiced by a handful of Westview students.

After gaining knowledge of many extracurriculars I went out of my comfort zone and joined one. I applied to the elective class, Journalism, which I knew almost nothing about. Since late January my time spent with this group has been eye opening. This class consists of the most talented and accomplished students I’ve met at Westview. It was the perfect leap I needed to take to really broaden my horizons. 

I am now improving my communication skills after being pushed to talk to other people more. By putting myself out there it has allowed me to surround myself with accomplished individuals that are helping me to grow. I now know what I can be a part of to fill my time and learn life skills along the way.