Shift 33: Advice

Sofia’s mom, Clara, ambushed me Saturday afternoon.

“Come! Play a hand of gin-rummy with me,” she said.

I got that something’s-going-on feeling that I pick up on when I know adults have something they want to talk to me about.

She’s the volunteer college-readiness counselor at YOTO, so I figured it had something to do with that.


“I read the profiles you wrote for our fund-raising campaign,” she said. “That piece was so well written!”

She went on about how “talented” I was. I was pleased with how the piece came out myself, but I haven’t wanted to let it go to my head.

“Let’s see if it results in an increase in contributions,” I said, “and then we can decide if it’s a success or not.”


“Have you put much thought into your career goals?” she asked. “With talent like yours, you could be a professional writer! Or communication specialist!”

“I want to be a botanist,” I replied.


“Seriously?” she asked.

She went on to talk about how many jobs were available for writers, including social media, marketing, communications, journalism, and web-media.

“There are a lot of jobs for botanists, too,” I replied. “And botanists have to be able to write.”

I was thinking of a project I dreamed up last summer when I was with Ted. It’s sort of like profile writing, but it’s writing the profiles of healing herbs that grow wild in the Sierras. I don’t know enough to write it now. I figure it might be a good college project for me.


Clara laughed. “Well, as long as you use your talents! That’s what counts! Follow your interests, use your talents, and you’ll be set for life!”

She went on to talk about my “map for the future.” She had it all worked out. After winter break, I’ll be entering my second semester of junior year. Since I want to get an athletic scholarship in track and an academic scholarship–in addition to a Pell Grant–now’s the time for me to start preparing.

I’ve got to train, so I’ll be in good shape in track season. If I set a record or two, I can pretty much choose my college. Keep my grades up. Study for the SAT.

“And I’m here to help,” she said. “I’ll be checking in to make sure you’ve got everything on course, and if you have any questions, I’m here.”

I appreciate her help. I really do. I’m starting to feel the pressure. While we were talking, I started feeling it even more. What if I don’t make it? I guess I can go to community college for two years. I’ve got to remember that it’s not my job to become the poster child for YOTO or to live up to anybody else’s expectations. It’s my job to do my best to meet my goals. For me. For me and for all the plants of the high country that want to have their stories told!


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