We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofXavier Vargas

One of the earliest memories I have of my oldest brother is seeing him perform in his high school plays and musicals. I would sit in the crowd, entranced, loving every moment. From the first time I saw him perform, I knew I wanted to do the same thing. Growing up, I found so many opportunities to follow his lead. I was the lead in my fourth-grade production of Aladdin, and I was in many different choirs and instrument ensembles. My favorite thing in the world was performing. I thought my future was very clear. I knew that I wanted to go into the performing arts as a career, and this was all because of my brother. 

As I got older, I still continued to perform, and eventually I joined the same drama club my brother was in when I first saw him perform. But suddenly, things started to change. The transition to high school meant I could take a much larger variety of classes, and I also had access to many new clubs and after-school programs. This led to me having a different club or program every single school day, ranging from student council, to science club, to percussion ensemble. I had all these different interests, and keeping up with them seemed impossible. I started questioning my future, wondering what I really wanted to do after high school. I was so overwhelmed, and trying to figure out what path would be best for me made me anxious. So again, I looked towards my brother for help. While I was in school, my brother was going through college. Even though my brother liked performing, he decided to go to school for engineering. Halfway through, he switched majors to psychology, but realized that's not what he eventually wanted to do. Instead, he took extra classes, so that after he graduated he could go back to school for nursing. His struggles in college felt really familiar to what I was struggling with, so I talked to him. I would ask questions about his thought process and how he did it. 

Before talking with my brother, I thought you had to pick something from high school and stick with it. I was so worried about what I would pick and how it would affect my future. How would I be able to choose one out of all my interests? What if I didn’t enjoy what I chose? Seeing what my brother did affected my thought process greatly. It helped me understand what I could do in my future. All my life college was seen as a goal, but I never understood how it could help pursue my interests. When I talked to my brother about what he did, I learned that it was normal to have and pursue multiple different interests.

Currently, I still don’t really know what I want to do in my future. I still do performing arts, but I’m now also really interested in STEM, and actively pursue it in and out of school. I have an interest in foreign languages and travel, and I also am really interested in politics. My interests are very diverse, but I feel as if i'm able to participate in all of them without too much conflict. I feel as if I owe a lot of this to my brother. Because of him, I discovered many of my interests that I now share with him, but I also learned that I don’t have to be dead set on one interest. Many people have diverse interests and you shouldn’t limit yourself to only one of them.


© Xavier Vargas. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.