Life’s A day At The Beach

September Storytime: when I was four years old, my whole family went on vacation to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware where we spent the whole day by the ocean. It was a beautiful day, a slight breeze in the air, children laughing in the background, cute crabs crawling into the sea. I was wearing a polka dotted, ruffly baby bikini and an adorable sunhat to prevent me from getting burnt to a crisp. Around lunchtime my mom opened the cooler and brought out one of my go-to lunch favorites, a turkey sandwich. She handed it to me confident that I would have a strong grip on the bread (she always did think I was more gifted than I was). My naive self however, was unaware of the dangers that can come with eating at the beach, so without a care in the world I put the sandwich casually in my mouth.

Savoring the taste of the buttery turkey, I took no notice of the squawking sounds that were coming closer and closer, until, before I knew it, I was looking right into the beady evil little eyes of a seagull. I had one half of the sandwich in my mouth and the other half in his beak. Now the creature had two choices here, I’m not an evil toddler, I knew how to share. We easily could’ve “Lady and the Tramp”ed the sandwich and called it a day. I could go on with my life being a bird whisperer, and like a Disney Princess I’d whistle a little tune (or hum it cause I never learned how to whistle) and they’d come and land on my hand and we’d sing together. It could’ve been a beautiful thing.

However, this seagull’s mother obviously never taught it that it’s not nice to take food from other birds/toddlers because, without a second thought, the seagull flew away with my sandwich!!!! Took the darn thing right out of my mouth. I was left with a piece of crust and a bag of grapes (which he had the audacity to fly back around for), and my mom was left with a screaming, scarred for life four-year old who was crying about wanting to go back to Ohio. Needless to say…I’ve never been the same. From that moment on, one of my biggest fears was birds. As I’ve grown up this one has stuck with me, but I’ve also gained a fear that tends to stem a little deeper than a bad day at the beach. I now find myself terribly afraid of not being happy.

That is very broad I know, and it’s impossible to always be happy. I mean I’ve obviously been unhappy before. When Gabriela sings “Gotta Go My Own Way” to Troy in High School Musical Two? Crushed. When Peter went home on Rachel’s season of the Bachelorette? Devastated. Whenever a dog dies in any TV show, movie, or book? I’m a mess. Yet, I remind myself it’s only a movie. I Google to make sure the real life dog who plays the deceased movie dog is still very much alive and I pull myself together. That kind of unhappiness is temporary. The kind I’m afraid of is closer and closer after everyday of high school I put behind me.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Oh, do you know how much they make?”

“That’s a very competitive field, you know.”

All things I’ve heard on a daily basis since my junior year started and I’ve only been in school for three days. I try my hardest to answer each person who asks these questions the same way.

“I want to study journalism and writing. Yes, I know they don’t make a crap ton but, considering I wanted to be a dog walker at age 8, I figured the salary can only go up from there. And yes, I know it’s a competitive field. I’m hoping God will give me a hand and have natural selection take out a couple of the other budding journalists.”

The fact that I have these responses down pat is kind of funny to me. I am only 16 and these people are asking me what I’m going to do with my life. I still have trouble getting gas sometimes and they want me to pick a career??? Plus newsflash! I’m not the only teenager who feels this way!!

I was talking to a friend of mine who has wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember, when she randomly mentions that she feels like she’d make a really good sportscaster. She told me to not “judge her” because obviously it’s far fetched and doctors make better money, but she feels like it would be a lot of fun. I personally think she’d be a wonderful sportscaster! The girl knows her stuff and I can perfectly picture her holding the microphone as the Super Bowl winners scream about Disney World. But, the main reason this conversation stuck with me so much is because she barely even considered the option since she knows a doctor would make more money and be the logical choice. Now she’d be a great doctor too, no doubt about it, but would she be happy?

Yes, there is a great chance she would be. Doctors tend to love what they do and that’s awesome considering we tend to put our lives in their hands, but what happens if you don’t love what you do? If you just do it for the money or the nice watch and pretty house? Now a pretty house would make me happy, sure, but could I even enjoy it if I hated what I did to pay for it everyday?

I feel like there’s a lot of pressure now a days to pick the logical choice, the one that makes sense, even if it’s not what you really want. We find ourselves slowly being pushed into pre-planned lives with colleges lined up and possible professions sitting nice and pretty on a table labeled “the safe route.” Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve never heard of anyone having a spectacularly fun time on the “safe route” – honestly it sounds like a snooze fest.

I’m aware I live a pretty privileged life filled with opportunities that allow me to take a risky route and be okay if it turns around and screws me over. I know there are a lot of people who don’t have the same opportunities. But, I find it hard to accept that life was meant to play out picture perfectly. No matter what you believe or don’t believe, we all somehow ended up on this earth with other people who are all different and a brain that is completely our own. As freaking incredible as that all is, you’re going to try and tell me that we were put here to take the safe path? No way Jose.

I don’t know how many of you have ever jumped off of something high (if you’re afraid of heights I’m not judging, I can’t even be around birds remember), but if you have then you know the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach right when you jump. It’s the same feeling during roller coasters, where your gut drops and your scared for a split second but then you can’t do anything but laugh because it’s so much fun. You might’ve been completely fine in line for the coaster or you were stressing big time, but once you’re on it spinning upside down and flying down hills, you’re so genuinely happy. That feeling right there, of genuine happiness, is something I never want to live my life without.

So yeah, the risky path is risky, that goes without saying, but do you think that when we’re passionate about something we’re not supposed to jump in because there’s a chance we might fall? SO WHAT!! Get back up, jump again and land on your feet because the only thing scarier than falling is staying at the top of the cliff wondering what would’ve happened if you had only jumped. Plus, all the way up there a seagull can come and snatch you right up, and believe me there is nothing fun about that.  

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Ainsley Allen

Ainsley is a teenage girl who currently lives with her family in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. Ainsley loves big cities, pretty sunsets and cute dogs. She fills her time by dancing, reading good books and singing in the shower.
Ainsley hopes to pursue a career in journalism and write for a women's magazine. Until then however, she is just working on making it through high school.

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