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May 4, 2013

Teenhood Today: Only you can determine your impact

The Daily Star

---- — The question I am most often asked is, “What do you want to do with your life?” 

Now, are they asking what I want my job to be when I leave school? Or are they asking what kind of a person I want to be and what kind of an impact I want to make on the world? 

I have no answer for the first one. I really don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But I do know what kind of a person I want to be. 

I think everyone knows the answer to that question. All people have an image of themselves that they want to portray to the world. They have the ideal person they want to be. 

Some of you may be shaking your head and making clucking noises, protesting the thought that you know who you want to be. Well, if you look deep enough inside, I guarantee you will find it. 

Who is your “favorite” person and why? What are the attributes you most respect in others? What is your favorite ice cream flavor? These are some of the questions you can ask yourself and I’m sure you will find your ideal person hiding inside. I believe that if you truly want to become that person and be the very best that you can be, you will work hard enough to achieve it. 

The second part of the question was, “what kind of an impact do you want to make on the world?” Whether the answer to this is achieving world peace, making at least one person smile every day, or inventing 2,000 new flavors of chocolate-coated-honey-dipped candy, you are the only one who can make that impact. Even if hundreds of people have the same goal in life, everyone is unique and will try to achieve it differently. That means that the impact you make on the world will be unique to you. It means that you are the only one who can do what you are going to do. 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we only have one life. What am I going to do with mine? Who am I going to be and what impact am I going to make? Some people push it off to the back burner and save it for another day. But what if there isn’t another day? 

So many people die each day. It’s completely insane to assume that you’re safe and that there is no way you are ever going to die before the age of 2 billion. Whether it’s from old age, starvation, violence, revenge or completely by accident, everyone will die. And nobody knows when his or her turn will come. 

If only you can make the difference that you will make, how can you be so selfish as to tell all the people who would benefit from your impact that “I don’t feel like changing the world today”?  Who knows if you ever will get around to it? What if you could make a difference but never do? 

We all assume that we’ll live a long time, but what if our next breath is our last? If you were to die right now, would you be proud of the legacy you left behind? Would you be happy with the life you left? If not, what do you need to change? 

Miriam A. Thurber is a sophomore at Unatego Central School. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at