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Living in Palo Alto may have influenced us to like nice things, but it’s also influenced us to pursue our dreams. I’m almost positive that every one of my friends would choose to work (even if they didn’t need to), because we’re ambitious people. We have huge career goals for ourselves and we will stop nowhere short of accomplishing them. Not every teenager gets their own iPhone and laptop, but at the same time, the average teenager comes nowhere near to exhibiting the level of hard work and dedication that a Palo Alto teen does. Most people surrounding you are very smart and educated. Kids that grow up here have very high educational standards. They strive to be the very best, and while many times that leads to unbearable stress, it also leads to incredibly innovative and intelligent teenagers. This is especially true for people interested in STEM based jobs. Plenty teens have internships at UCSF and Stanford. There are also plenty of other programs in the area; Stanford has a few summer programs and internship availabilities for teens interested in scientific research and medicine. Silicon Valley is also very active and many kids participate in club sports. They’re so caught up in getting As that they have no clue what makes them happy. Most of the students here don’t even have real friends; if you look at some of these high schools during lunch time, 70% of the students will be sitting on the grass in small circular groups, eyes glued to their phones, small talk occurring every few minutes. Most of these students don’t have many (if any) real friends, because how can you be friends with someone you’re competing against? How can you be a true friend to someone, when every time they get a better grade than you, your jealousy overcomes how much you care for them. How can you be a true friend to someone, when every time you have to submit an assignment, or have a test, you pray they do poorly, because their failures mean all the more chance of you getting into your dream college. How can you be a true friend to someone, when you can’t even tell them your top college choices because you don’t want them to apply and take your spot. When a community like Silicon Valley expects so much of its teenagers, how can you possibly expect them to be themselves?
Being an extremist on either side of the political spectrum is bad be it liberalism or conservatism. Many of the people in Silicon Valley are extremely liberal, to the point where they are completely biased and ridiculous in their beliefs and statements. For example, the history classes in Palo Alto are unbelievably biased. The teachers are so worried about being politically correct that we as students suffer, and end up getting an incredibly biased, sheltered, and inaccurate education. Not only that, but most people in Silicon Valley blindly look down upon conservatives. Silicon Valley schools may pride themselves on being accepting, but I have most definitely seen people be ridiculed for holding moderate conservative beliefs. We have no idea what the real world is like. I wasn’t even going to mention it at first because it seemed so normal to me, but the reality is, most people do not have the newest iPhones and iPads. Most people don’t own macbook pros or have their own google glass. It’s not normal for your high school’s parking lot to be filled with cars that cost over $20,000. Not even that, but most families can’t afford to give their children enough money to buy coffee and get lunch at Town and Country an area across the street that features restaurants and shops every day. Some of these things may be little, and we most likely don’t even stop to think about them, but over time, they add up. They’re small things, but they represent an immensely different lifestyle. The area is so expensive that most of our teachers can’t even afford to live within a 20 mile radius of the schools they teach in. Some of them drive over two hours every morning just to get to school. There are also a lot of kids that live in East Palo Alto that attend Palo Alto High School. Their lives are drastically different from ours; there is a huge divide between the kids living in East Palo Alto and between the kids living in Palo Alto. Although people are generally accepting, there is definitely this (often subconscious) idea of them not being “as good” as us. If your parent isn’t an engineer, doctor, or lawyer, then people generally look down on you. It may not be evident in our actions, but it’s definitely what the people around here think. Yes, some do. I know a woman that waited until 40 to have a child. The experience was not at all what she thought it would be, even though she had several nieces and nephews.
She felt trapped to a life that prevented her from pursuing her interests from her previous life. I was shocked when she called her child a leech and asked how long until the child was more independent. Her child was 8 months old at the time. She didn’t have PP depression, she just had regrets. Her inability to enjoy motherhood caused her marriage to crumble and yet, she fought hard for full custody. Another friend of mine had infertility issues and gave up after in vitro failed. Of course, she got pregnant the very next month! Even though she was older than she wanted to be as a parent, she has fully embraced the role. And had a second child. Her life is very full, not just raising children, but other pursuits, as well while the children are in school. Regrets over having children, at any age, appear to be more about the parent’s expectations than the rough, wonderful, ride we call childrearing. People that expect their children to slip into their lives with hardly a ripple are disappointed to learn they are the ones that must adapt and change. I pointed out that if the glass broke, the child would get hurt. When that didn’t make a difference to their response, I walked over to the child and got between him and the glass case. Then, while the boy beat on the front of my thighs as he tried to get past me, I politely but firmly told the parents to remove him from the store. The mother shrugged and said, “He’s just exploring. We don’t believe in limiting him.” The dad just grinned indulgently as his offspring started hammering the glass even harder. I never forget that conversation. My dad honestly believed it would be beneficial if his daughter never spoke to males. That’s half the population I was just expected not to interact with. I remember the Fireworks video by Katy Perry coming out around that time. I was still a teenager. There is a scene of a boy watching his crush at a club. As the song progresses he walks over and kisses him. That was my first encounter with homosexuality. I was amazed. No one before talked to me about homosexuality. I recall being so in shock and at the same time brimming with love and happiness. To me it wasn’t weird that a male was kissing another male. He had feelings for that person and decided to do something about it.
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