It’s okay for goals to change

As we grow up, our goals shift, which is completely fine, especially if they are causing us unhappiness or stress.


by Ella Norton, Features Editor

Dear young Ella,

How are you? Are you still obsessed with reading, creating home movies and dreaming up goals that are extremely difficult to achieve? Yeah about the goals, I have a newsflash for you. I don’t think I’m going to be able to achieve any of the things you thought of.

For context, when I was eight, all I wanted was to be a published author. I was penning a book called “The Dreamer” and I was convinced that my life’s purpose was to write an incredible story and become world famous. I was so passionate about this that I wrote myself a letter for my 16th birthday saying that if I wasn’t a published author yet, I was a failure.

Unfortunately, I’m 16 now and I am not a published author. I never created a YouTube channel to live out my dreams of being a social media star. I sincerely doubt I could get into Columbia University (my dream college at 8 years old), and I am no longer taking piano lessons so I don’t think superb pianist will be on my resume any time soon.

Long story short, I’ve basically given up on all of of my old dreams. However, now I have a real newsflash for you, young Ella — not all goals are accomplished and some goals change. That’s okay.

I think this mentality is a little hard to have in our society when there is such a pressure to persevere and to accomplish your goals. But what about when the thing you are going after is hurting you?

As you well know young Ella, I used to love playing piano and would spend hours practicing in an attempt to better my musical talents. However with the start of junior year, my schedule became crazy, and I didn’t have time to practice. I began to dread going to lessons and my lack of practice caused extreme worry.

I ultimately dropped piano, and I am so glad I did. It put such a pressure on my life and it no longer caused me any joy. Yes, I was giving up on my goal but in the end I knew that it was better for me.

It’s a double-edged sword. I want to encourage everyone to go after their goals and to persevere. Every great thing does require work and effort. However, there are certain goals that cause extreme stress to a person or they feel a duty to finish, causing them unhappiness or inability  to focus on anything else. These are both situations in which a goal is more harmful than good. If a goal is draining you mentally, physically and you cannot function—you have to consider how necessary it really is.

As I mentioned before, I feel like this is pretty frowned upon, even at STA. There’s this atmosphere where you feel you can’t drop a class, even if it’s too much for you, you can’t not do a certain extracurricular because your schedule is too busy  — you have to do it all. I find this atmosphere is ridiculous. Just because you drop a class does not mean that you aren’t smart enough and it does not determine your success. If something is making you unhappy, causing you extreme amounts of stress or anxiety and basically stopping you from living your best life, it’s okay to give up on it. Focus on something that does make you happy. Goals evolve over time, even if we aren’t aware of it.

When I opened the letter you wrote me for my 16th birthday young Ella, I did sort of feel like a failure. I hadn’t accomplished anything that I had wanted to when I was young. But after some reflection, I realized that it was alright. My dreams have completely changed. I’m not a published author but I do write for my school newspaper and I love it.  Columbia University is no longer on my college list, but I’m looking at schools where I could be much happier. I no longer take piano lessons, but I play whenever I can and that works out well for me.

So young Ella, I’m sorry if you’re disappointed that I didn’t achieve any of the things you wanted me to. However, the truth is I’m pretty happy with where my current dreams are taking me, and that’s all that matters.


16 year old Ella