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My first two years of high school consisted of undeniably insane ventures including (but not limited to): excess partying, skipping school and just an over-all zeal for fun —regardless of consequences. I found myself in a situation in which fun was all I sought, thus confirming the significance of the classic adage “too much of a good thing.” It was the aftermath of a moment in which I found myself in the back of a squad car when I realized that I needed to change my ways. I realized that if I continued on living life without abandon, I would sacrifice my future; Deciding to avoid adhering to the social contract of being a law-abiding citizen was not doing me any favors and and sitting in the back of a squad car for a minor in possession charge I realized I needed to take a hard look at my life and decide to alter my ways in an effort to commit to a potentially successful life.
At 16 years old, I didn’t have any career prospects, my main goal was having fun in any way that I knew how. I became engrained in a crowd that was, to put it kindly — not known for academic merit or achievement. The drive for a good time was too promising to turn down, thus resulting in frequent disagreements with my parents, which ultimately caused me to drift further into my lifestyle. My academic record began to suffer and I was having such a good time that I couldn’t see the caveat. When one is fully living in the present, how could I be threatened with the prospect of a bad future? This question loomed over my mind but was masked by the clout of my lifestyle. My familial relationships suffered greatly and prior to my encounter with the police, I was not in the position to recognize the damage.
On the fateful day of November 16th, 2016, I was in the midst of the finale of a great night with my friends (and out passed the legal curfew) when the car I was in was pulled over by the police. The event resulted in a citation for Minor in Possession and I found myself at a crossroad. For context: at the time I was living with my mother and stepfather in my hometown of El Paso, Texas; My father and stepmother lived in Florida. It was at this point when I contemplated my situation: do I continue living my life in this way? Or do I decide to risk the life I had known and become accustomed to in an effort to better my future? I decided on the latter. I realized that my father and stepmother could potentially provide the structure that I needed in order to live as a law-abiding citizen, thus resulting in my decision to leave my friends and lifestyle behind for the prospect of a new life in Florida with my father and his family.
The first step in ensuring my success was raising my GPA; it’s difficult to maintain a decent GPA while viewing scholarly achievement as useless. I was enrolled in online courses and given a strict schedule accompanied with regular monitoring to ensure I didn’t fall behind. I did my schoolwork at home, thus entrenching I wouldn’t succumb to characters homologous to my old friends and the habits we engaged in. I missed my friends back home, but I knew that moving away was the only circumstance to consolidate my future. I worked harder than I’d ever imagined, it’s much more difficult to raise a bad GPA than to preserve a good one. Additionally, I needed to prepare for the SATs and ACTs —exams that I had never considered taking in the past. I moved to a foreign land and was isolated from all potential bad influences; I did well, not as well as I could have done if I had started on this path, but I was unaware of my potential at the time. I was just content that I managed to get through a semester of high school without partying. I focused all of my previously expendable energy on bettering my academic record. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to pursue regarding an occupation at the time, but I knew that I was on the right track to make certain that I didn’t end up living the rest of my life as a fun-loving nomad.
After a semester of this lifestyle I was allowed to return to regular public school. I was slightly apprehensive about falling into my old ways. However, with the confidence gathered from doing well in online school, I persevered. I had achieved much more than anyone back in Texas could’ve ever anticipated. I would be lying if I stated that temptation had not lingered, but each time I felt hesitance, I reminded myself of my journey this far. I knew that my current time was crucial and I would be careless to squander it. My family helped me immensely – especially my stepsister who is four years older than myself. She was already attending University and helped guide me in filling out and sending my college applications. Three years ago, if someone were to ask me what I thought I’d be doing at this point in my life, I never thought I would say “sending in my college applications.” Eventually I had decided that I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and do ROTC in college and get a commission in the Army as an officer. I have aspirations to become a police officer or perhaps a detective, maybe even an agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation after my time in the army.
It’s somewhat ironic, how through my experience with disobeying the law, I was able to determine that I wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. However, on the other hand, my experience with leaning between the lines of lawful and unlawful is what has made me appreciate the significance of complying with the former. Abandoning the construct of a law-abiding citizen allowed me to comprehend just how important it is to acknowledge this social contract. I have come a long way and I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me and I will continue to strive for my ambitions as a result of my experience.
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