The Graduate: An Interview With Tessa

Now that I’m nearing 40 (the age I determined was “old” when I was three decades younger), I’m not around as many young adults as I’d like to be. Most of my friends have only just started their families so most of the kids I know are tweens or younger.

TessaEnter Tessa. My beautiful “adopted” niece. Or cousin. I’m not really sure. We’re not blood, but by all means, we are family. I met Tessa when she was two years old. And  she’s about to embark on a journey most consider to be the first foray into adulthood. Tessa is going to graduate from high school very soon and I can’t believe it! I remember the hours I spent dalmatian role-playing with her like it was only yesterday (don’t worry, Tess, I’m going to stop reminiscing here so as not to embarrass you on the Internets)!

When I had Lulu, a wise parent said to me, “The days are long but the years are fast.” So true, so true.  I can’t believe Lulu just turned two, and I can hardly believe that Tessa is on her way to college this Fall!

Since I have the amazing opportunity to hang with such a bright, young lady, I asked Tessa to share her thoughts about the future with you. I hope you enjoy our little tête-à-tête:

Paper Culture:  Tell us a little about yourself.

Tessa: I’m a graduating high school senior, born and raised in Santa Monica, one of the most liberal places I can think of. I’m a good student, not so much because I’m motivated by grades or accomplishments but because I like to always try my best, as clichéd as it sounds, but the way I think of it, if I’m not giving life all that I have then I’m not really living either. Therefore I try extremely hard at everything I do, and I enjoy basically everything just for the experience of doing it, not worrying about when I’ll ever use this particular calculus function again. (I’m sort of an anomaly with school that way, though.)

I also feel a deep connection to nature and forms of art in general. I don’t see a point in living unless you enjoy living. Sure we might go to school or to work or whatever consumes our days, slaving away at things we potentially don’t enjoy doing just to make money, but what do we generally use that money for? Our enjoyment. Life should be about enjoying art, human expression, the great expanses of mysteries we can never hope of uncovering. Science is great for our immediate concerns, but generally what we consider “facts” are thrown out in 50 or 100 years, therefore science doesn’t prove us anything at all. The only sure thing seems to be art because it is always changing.

PC: What are your plans after high school?

T: I will attend UCLA in the fall. My plan as of right now is to double major in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Environmental Science with an emphasis in Environmental Engineering, with a minor in Jewish Studies. Ultimately I’d love to become a novelist and a rabbi, but I also enjoy problem solving and the environment and strongly believe that we should be moving away from fossil fuels. Therefore I think that Environmental Engineering would be a cool “back-up” and a major that people generally consider to be more “practical.”

PC:  What’s your personal motto?

T: “Everything always works out in the end.” Maybe it’s just that I’ve lived a very blessed life, but I genuinely feel that the universe will always work itself out in the end. Sure we have major ups and downs, but in the end we’re alive and able to experience life around us, learning from our surroundings. Maybe it’s naïve, but that’s my mentality at this stage in my life.

InspirationPC: What accomplishments in your life are you most proud?

T: I’m most proud of being the Feature Editor at my high school’s newspaper. I love writing and designing page layouts and helping younger staff writers with their article ideas and interview skills.

PC: What are your thoughts on the future?

T: I’m optimistic about the future, but I don’t like to think about it too much. I don’t like to dwell on things that aren’t immediately in front of me because then I feel like we’re losing the moment in front of us. As far as plans for the future, I hope to travel extensively before I do anything else after college.

Wow. Did I sound that smart when I was Tessa’s age? I don’t think so (although I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Environmental Science in 1994)! Now do you see why I wanted to share her with you? The kids are alright, eh?! This young lady already understands one of life’s most important lessons — to live life fully. I know that she knows that even though schools’ over, the education’s going to continue. And I can proudly say that I am looking forward to watching Tessa grow. Tessa, I love you! Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

Congratulations to the Class of 2011! I wish you all the very best, but mostly, that you are happy in your life.