Twenty-Six Seconds

​In America, every 26 seconds a student drops out of high school.

At my school, school is your life or you lose because in this game we play, colleges look at your GPA. That’s why you need straight As. A 4.0 is too low, do you know an average degree won’t get you a job that pays? SATs, ACTs, CAHSEEs, and druggies; my campus, a discombobulated destruction of brilliant minds slammed into ones and zeros; my transcript, a spoonful of alphabet soup, and we are heroes, but 

It’s been 26 seconds. Somebody gives up.

Excel excel excel, or farewell. You’re brain, they say, is a rocket that won’t launch without the base of passing grades. And I know. I know. But sometimes the days drag me down, the very ground that I walk on is a laundry list of historical towns and abstract nouns. Memorize facts, names, dates, lines, the breeding patterns of the Mediterranean fruit fly.

26 seconds have gone by, somebody drops out. Why?

Don’t forget to take APs cuz that’s what colleges want to see. Who knows if it’s the right thing for me. My life is not a spelling bee. I can’t tell you what’s inside of me with biology and matrices. But still these courses keep me afloat like a life vest stuffed with Charles Dickens quotes and lecture notes, the mess of missing pencil lead. And yes, if school was my only breath, I’d be dead. But instead, I can also sit on the sand, watch the waves roll by, look for love in two blue eyes and try to manage my time. 

26 seconds have gone by.

So yeah, sometimes I’m stuck at my desk grappling with graph paper and my one hundred dollar TI-83 calculator, feeling like a slave to this infatuation with education. But I’m building a foundation so it won’t collapse into my own evaporation. I owe this to myself, and when homework is finished and folded in my backpack, when I’m done suppressing a Work Overload Triggered Heart Attack, I unfurl, wade into the rest of the wandering world, with four years of high school behind me. No matter how shattered the jewel can be. 

26 seconds, you see? Someone’s out. But not me.

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​Miriam is a Literati Fellow with Get Lit – Words Ignite.
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