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When I turned 18, I gave myself a birthday gift. I became a high school dropout.
I went to a private middle school where instead of report cards, I got entire packets of evaluations.
But when I enrolled in Berkeley High School, my class sizes doubled, and homework and tests took on more weight than ever before.
Everywhere I looked, I saw people falling into exhausting routines, full of extracurriculars, and extra tutoring; to pass all their AP classes, to look good for an expensive college. And here I was, just months into my freshman year, already exhausted.
Junior year, I started skipping classes in favor of reading in the park across the street. It was the first time in a long time that I felt engaged in learning.
During my senior year, I dropped out. Within a month, I passed the GED with a plan to attend community college and transfer to a four-year university.
Most adults couldn’t understand why I’d give up on my high school education. I didn’t give up on anything. I chose well-being over the expectations of others. And I took control of my future.