After reading it, it did two things for me:
1) Made all my high school accomplishments (heck, even college ones) feel like diddly-squat compared to this girl!
2) Inspired me that our youth have not given up hope and in fact are smarter than we give them credit for.
They are out there trying to improve our world, to ensure sustainability of the planet and of humanity, to really make a difference.
So if growing up means giving up hope on bettering things, on making a difference, then I definitely do not want to grow up.
After 14 years of working in the for-profit corporate world, and focusing so much on climbing the corporate ladder to prove to myself (and selfishly to others) that I can be a serious, successful corporate executive, I will admit the view from up there was not as nice as I had envisioned.
"Growing up" was not so attractive after all. Sure there were plenty of perks, but it lacked something crucial to me. Something I had when I was in high school and college. Something I always thought I'd have forever in my studies, career and continuous learning.
Passion. It lacked passion.
My passion, my hobby of "greening" our family, our home, our local community, was always just that...a passion, a hobby, something I did for fun.
Until one day I decided to stop being such a boring grown up and try to get some of that passion back in my career. I wanted a career that didn't just pay the bills but made me excited to wake up in the morning and thankful when I went to bed at night. It's not as easy as it sounds to find a job that can do all of those things.
Maybe it was September 11 and seeing the smoke from the Pentagon from my office window or seeing the emergence of army personnel with weapons drawn on the streets and the Metro outside our office.
Maybe it was sitting in a high level meeting complete with leather chairs and marble tables that screamed luxury in a beautiful downtown office and thinking "I'm helping rich people get richer while poor people get poorer and that just doesn't feel right."
Maybe it was that my kids started asking me what I did for "work", where I went all day, why I came home so late, or why I had to travel to that city or this one, all the while looking at me with those eyes that said "I miss you" and the hugs that felt like "Don't ever let me go."
Maybe it was a combination of all these things that made me realize I had to do something about it. Things don't happen by themselves. I'm all for going with the flow, but I realized I had been going with the flow for far too long.
It was time to push my limits, just as this young girl, only a Sophomore in high school, has already done. While I wish I had figured this out at her age, you are never too old to push your limits and follow your dreams.