Going Beyond the Land of Expectations

What challenge have you faced in high school, and how have you met that challenge?

In Norton Juster’s novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, the protagonist, Milo, undertakes a journey much like the one many high school seniors find themselves facing today. He isn’t sure of where he is going, and like many of us, he is carried by a sense of adventure and of expectation. Like Milo, we begin in Expectation, where, Juster claims, “you must always go to before you get to where you’re going. Of course, some people never go beyond expectations…”Today, we are in the Land of Expectations. Parents expect many things of us: good grades, obedience, and successfully getting into the college of our dreams. My classmates and I expect even more from ourselves: senior privileges, guidance from family and teachers, and a new start in college. In high school, we know what to expect. We expected to be caught if we didn’t sign in to homeroom. We expected either Phil or Kevin Lee to thoroughly destroy us in games of Net Tetris. We expected our parents to pay our bills and help us to make our important decisions. Indeed, some of us have yet to face a difficult decision that we, as adults, must make entirely for ourselves. But next year, we face the unfamiliar. Most of us only know what not to expect: homemade lunches packed by Mom, faculty with whom we can share intimate details of our lives, private bedrooms. But of course, we will also have to make adjustments that go beyond the day-to-day activities of eating, sleeping, and spending money. These adjustments have to do with taking control of our own lives. We will have to become independent. This year, our journey begins. We prepared for this for years. Family and friends must now realize that preparations are over. We are going beyond the land of expectations. Some of us have already found our independence, and are ready to pursue our dreams. Others of us know where we want to go, but still need some guidance as to how to get there. And some of us, like me, have no idea what is going to happen. But, in the words of the Mathemagician and King Azaz from The Phantom Tollbooth, “What you can do is often simply a matter of what you WILL do.” All of us have this year in common, as we step beyond what is expected of us, and learn to embrace what we expect of ourselves. We can only be led so far. Now, we must leap.

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