Personal column: Don’t let one mistake dictate your future

Valarie+Cardenas%2C+National+Hispanic+Recognition+Scholar

Valarie Cardenas, National Hispanic Recognition Scholar

Valarie Cardenas is the Editor-In-Chief of Panther Prints.

“I think I’m pregnant”.

Words that when used in a suitable context towards the correct audience, can bring the utmost happiness. However, when spoken by a blindsided high school student, these words can evoke an insurmountable amount of panic, disbelief, shock, worry, dread, stress, and everything else that could come from an atomic bomb of reality.

Fortunately, I’ve never had to make this statement, yet I know firsthand the effect a possibility as great as this can have on a student. Friends that I would never have expected to have this conversation with in high school have confided in me what they themselves cannot confide in their parents.

When they tell me what is going on at that moment, I just as quickly ask if they are okay. Despite the “yes” they try to pass on, the look of panic in their eyes tells another story. Even if I didn’t know them as well as I do, it wouldn’t take much to realize that they aren’t themselves. Their minds seem so distant. They don’t pay attention in class; the teacher’s hair could be on fire and they wouldn’t know the difference. Their mind is not in school but somewhere else.

The stressed teenager is busy trying to figure out what they’re going to do if they or their girlfriend becomes pregnant.

We’re in high school; we should be worried about what assignment is due the next school day. Seniors should be worried about when college applications are due. In fact, for some students, their biggest worry should be whether they should wear a blue or white uniform shirt to school tomorrow. Instead, so many are worried about whether they or their girlfriend is pregnant or not, hoping that maybe their period is just late this month.

I know I can’t control what my peers do behind closed doors, but now more than ever I just wish they would at least be responsible in whatever way they choose. We’re teenagers, we’re at that point in our lives where we’re definitely not kids, but we still aren’t exactly complete adults. We can still get away with acting like little big kids to have fun or go out with our friends and be independent. Why jeopardize that and worry yourself with the thought of becoming an adult and provide for a family before you even know how to completely provide for yourself?

I’m not here to judge; that’s not my place. I just want everyone, especially my friends, to be happy and not let anything hold them back. Call me selfish if you want, but more than anything, I want them to be there with me on the path to following our dreams and achieving our goals.

So many have worked so hard to get where they are today. So many have fought and conquered various emotional, physical and academic battles. So many don’t know what’s going to happen or what they’re going to do after high school, and that’s okay. Just don’t let an unexpected pregnancy make your choices for you.