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Mary Vidaurri

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How do you balance living practically, with reaching for your dreams? How much does material gain matter, realistically?

As a teenager, there aren't many people within my age group willing to discuss life’s dilemmas outside of drama unfolding on FB, resulting in mental asphyxiation.
I've got my whole, too brief life, stretched out before me, and the sheer stunningness of my own mortality leads me to question the path my life will lead, and the "real" world impact of my decisions.
I want life and every word to the extent that it's absurd. I want to take every opportunity to travel, and fully experience life, even if it means I don't have much in material wealth. I don't mind hardship, I've lived with it. As long as I have enough for food and healthcare I'm fine. (This plan definitely includes college:)
Yet my family and culture pushes me in the direction of "traditional success" which consists of a job paying big bucks, a shiny new car, big house, two kids, and a dog. The American Dream, for a latina in a migrant family. This is seen as climbing up the ladder, it's a practical, comfortable lifestyle. A wise choice many would say and well within my grasp.
So I guess, after all that backstory, I want to hear what really matters once you've well advanced through life? Do you wish you'd taken the leap, or treasure the security of your life?
I don't know, I'm only 16, so I'd love to hear any advice, or common regrets.
and I hope this doesn't sound like typical teen angst, straight out of Catcher in the Rye:)

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  • Jul 11 2013: You can have both. I find that academic success generally leads to freedom, or at least travel. You want to travel. That costs money. If you want to have the life you want, you need to acquire the means to do it.

    I studied abroad last semester for 5 months in the United Kingdom, and now I am doing research in Berlin this summer for 3 months. These experiences did not cost too much money because of their academic nature. My 5 month in the UK probably cost me $4,000 more than living back home and my trip to Germany, although I am making less money than I would if I was working back home, is basically free. My stipend covers my living expenses (not my travel expenses).

    The better positioned you are in life, the more opportunities you will have. For example, I am living in Germany right now because I got an academic scholarship to do research here. Also, if you do end up getting material wealth. you can take a 2 week vacation anywhere every year. After 30 year years of that, you will be well traveled.

    I also find that searching for happiness will not let you find it. The only way for me to be happy and content is to know that what I am doing is worthwhile and productive. It is a sense of accomplishment that makes me content. Find something you like doing, are passionate about and work your butt off. Don't do something you hate, obviously. I want to travel as well. I know that the only way to travel is to work really hard in academia, and become economically successful.
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      Jul 13 2013: Thanks, I'm coming to a similar conclusion...I've been looking up universities with travel programs to apply for in the fall, and re-considering pharmacy school...maybe it'll lead me to more travel opportunities than I previously thought (Costa Rica to study the natural fauna and their possible medical uses:)

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