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Column: What's your backup plan?

Rhea Jones' monthly column Dear Mom and Dad
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What are you going to do after high school?”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question I’d be rich enough to do nothing at all.

While October seems early to be stressing about the next school year, all senior students are already feeling the pressure to apply for university or college, get recommendation letters, and decide what career they want to pursue.

The truth is I’ve always dreaded this question because my goals don’t follow the traditional path of going to university or college and getting a steady career. Since I was nine years old I’ve been set on having a career as a singer/songwriter. When I was younger my big dream was deemed adorable and adults would tell me cheesy things like “never give up on your dreams.” However, now that the cuteness has worn off, I get a very different reaction with many follow-up questions including: “What are you going to do on the side?” “How are you going to make money?” and worst of all: “What’s your backup plan?”

Here’s the problem with backup plans; having a Plan B gives you something to fall back on if you fail. While this seems logical, the catch is you’re guaranteed to fail.

If you have big ambitions you’re undoubtedly going to be unsuccessful many times before you finally get what you want.

If you run to your backup plan as soon as you encounter an obstacle you aren’t giving yourself a real chance to succeed.

On top of that, backup plans require a significant amount of time and energy that could’ve been spent on your plan A.

This only serves as a distraction from your real goals and divides your resources. The time, energy, and money spent on your backup plan could have been used to move towards what you truly desire. Why waste your time on a “what if I fail” scenario, when it could be used on a “what if I succeed” mentality.

It wasn’t until a few months ago when talking to my friend Jasmine Joice that my perspective on back up plans changed.

She made me realize that backup plans in themselves aren’t the problem, it’s the way we look at them. “Have a backup plan but don’t make it a completely new goal, it should just be an alternative method of getting what you actually want.

If you fail, get back up and try a different way because no one wants to live their life imagining what it could’ve been,” said Jasmine.

So let’s redefine “backup plan.”

Let’s make it mean “all the ways you are going to pick yourself up and try again” not “what you’re going to do if you give up and fail.”

Regardless of what you want to do, doctor, singer, athlete, teacher or still deciding, don’t compromise your dream and play it safe for the sake of making other people comfortable.

Have a backup plan, not a backup goal.

Rhea Jones is a French immersion student at Foothills Composite High School who loves to write and share her ideas. Her goal with her column Dear Mom and Dad is to encourage youth to read and participate with the Western Wheel.