The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

2024 Senior Column: Audrey Tsai

Audrey Tsai

By the time this is published, I will either have my driver’s license or my learning permit will have expired. 

I know, it’s embarrassing for an almost 18-year-old to still passenger princess everywhere, but I have my reasons. 

Entering high school, I thought I had already found the two greatest loves of my life: reading (because epic fantasy books are awesome) and science (because of one seventh-grade science teacher who liked to randomly burst into song). 

Little did I know that was only the tip of the iceberg. My debate captain coerced me into enrolling in a random journalism course, which snowballed into my favorite time commitment. (Yay Talon!) I applied to ASI on the literal day of the deadline expecting to get rejected, then found myself spending the next two years in the lab. Not to mention my crushing disappointment when I discovered that I was, in fact, not superhuman and needed eight hours of sleep a night to be a fully functioning member of society. 

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Filling out the course planning worksheet for senior year, I was dismayed to find that all the activities I wanted to do somehow added up to over 200 hours a week. Where was I going to get the extra 32 hours? Maybe I could repeat Friday 1.3 times. 

Let’s just say there were tears, stress and complex mathematics involved (calculus level at least) to get my plan down to a manageable 160 hours a week. 

The Bay Area is rather preoccupied with practicality and efficiency. My interests were tolerated to the extent that I was developing marketable skills, because “all scientists need to write” or I’d “get into a better writing program with technical skills.” But at some point, versatility became seen as indecision. Which interest is a hobby? Which one is a serious career? Am I a scientist indulging in writing or a writer who geeks out over cool science in her free time? 

When I was falling asleep while FaceTiming my physics lab group or editing a breaking news article instead of studying for a test or missing a Talon class period to attend a science fair, the same worries lurked in my mind. It was hard not to feel impossibly greedy for wanting to do it all.

In all honesty, staying true to all my interests required bittersweet sacrifices and compromises — driving is just one of them. I still haven’t perfected that school-life balance, I only watch around 70 percent of Young Sheldon and 30 percent of Suits because I have to leave in the middle, and I definitely don’t get enough sleep. 

But when faced with the alternative, a choice where either decision feels like a betrayal of myself, I have no regrets. Maybe a few years into the future I’ll finally be forced to make a choice, but until then, I’m planning on holding onto the activities I’ve come to love for as long as I can.

So, waiting an extra year to get a license? Worth it! (Though I’m still really really hoping I pass my driver’s test.)

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Audrey Tsai
Audrey Tsai, Editor-in-Chief

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