I was born on the night of October 10, 1998, and I’ve already made my life’s plans. For my high school years, I want to get a job for all four summers doing things that I enjoy, so it’s not strictly about what my colleges see. I’ll get paid and donate some to church.

For the academic years, I’ll try to get closest to a 4.0 GPA. I just feel better prepared if I make the decision to get into a good college. It’s my life and I’ll squeeze the most out of it.

For my extracurriculars, I’ll do two sports every year -- soccer and softball -- and I’ll participate in the annual play. The theatre is like having multiple personalities -- except people don’t lock you up. They clap instead. And sports are a necessity; without that, I’ll end up fat with no good workout habits.

For colleges. I’ve decided to go to the Ivy League. To be the best you need to go to the best.

After college, I plan on becoming a film writer/book author with my double majors in film production and writing. And, with my business minor, establish my own dance studio (after watching too much “Dance Moms”).

Then I’ll meet my exotic husband who is several nationalities. I’m pro interracial and to make the world better we’ll have to accept our differences.

I will have up to three kids and name one after me, just so my name lives on through the generations. When I feel alone after they move out, I’ll adopt another. We’ll live in a varied climate with rain and trees.

And finally, I’ll die of old age in my sleep, with a good book and a bible on the night stand.

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SATs. College visits. GPAs. Despite all the hype around going to college after high school, many teens still see the military as a better option in the short run.

For some, it’s one way to actually afford to attend a good university down the road. “I would join the Armed Forces so they could pay for my college,” says 16-year-old Ronnie Brown, from Excel High School. In an unstable economy, the military says it provides job security. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Opportunities should be good for qualified individuals in all branches of the Armed Forces through 2022.” “I just want to join the Army,” says Selena Mejia, a senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy. “It seems interesting, you get to learn new skills.” Sounds good, skeptical teens say, until you think about all the wars raging around the world. “I feel like the Army is for people who aren’t afraid to die,” says Lashonda Cottrell, 15, from West Roxbury Academy, “because you’re risking your life.”
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It’s sad when, for teens so young, the dream deferred becomes the dream denied.

Many Boston teens are multi-talented -- singing, dancing, drawing, shooting photographs or basketballs-- but find that life gets in the way of them turning their artistic and athletic gifts into future careers.

It is the opposite of all those making unrealistically loud noises about becoming the next superstar in this or that.

Ariel Hector, 16, does Spanish and hip-hop dancing but doesn’t expect to turn her moves into a profession. “I don’t see myself dancing to benefit my life,” says Hector, who goes to Brighton High School. Louis Brantley, 18, is a poet and rapper. Music remains important to him, he says, but he knows he needs to focus on everyday tasks like doing well in school and trying the more practical route of becoming a music- video producer. “Dreams of an unbeliever, soon to be an achiever,” says Brantley, from Dorchester. Anthony Berry, 13, from Jamaica Plain, is a basketballer but he realizes he won’t be dribbling his way into the NBA. He doesn’t want the travel and to be far from home. “My family over all things,” he says.
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Since she was younger, her definition of beauty has evolved. When she was five, her curls and twists were treasured as if they were ringlets of gold. Then she turned seven and took a trip to the hair salon so that she could get a hairdo that made her look just like mommy.

At the age of 13, she went away to camp and was sent along with braids. Now she’s 15 and interested in making her hair longer than it really is. That’s a typical hair narrative among many teenage girls. Still, when it comes to finding a companion, some boys seem to run away from the idea of artificial hair. “I don’t like weave,” says Dexter Forrester, 17, from Roxbury. “If it’s not taken care of, it looks matted and it’s just too much.” Jakhari Battle, 17, from Dorchester, says weave is just a style for girls without much going on atop their heads. “It’s fake hair,” he says. Others say they are more interested in personality and a pretty face than the look of locks. “I would not care if a girl wears weave as long as they’re a good person,” says Lieyon Canton, 14, from Dorchester. Some boys just feel that if you like someone, something as small as wearing weave should not get in the way.
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Sixteen-year-old AD, from South Boston, struggles to unburden her Attention Defi Hyperactivity Disorder every day.

“You can’t sit still,” says AD, whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy. “You have trouble paying attention. I stare off into space because I get distracted so easily.” AD says she was diagnosed with ADHD in eighth grade after being recommended for a test by a teacher. She was put on a medication named Adderall. “It helps me focus,” AD says. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5.9 million young people between the ages of 3 and 17 have been detected as having ADHD. Symptoms range from becoming bored easily and daydreaming to struggling to follow instructions. AD says ADHD was the cause for a lot of the bullying directed at her, from both students and teachers; she says one adult singled her out as the ‘special kid.’ ” AD says she managed to move beyond the bullying and create organizational strategies to help with her schoolwork. “I would have a notebook and pencil for each class color-coded,” she says. Now that she has become more self- confident, AD has developed a strong dislike for the way society views people with ADHD. “We’re not different, we just learn differently,” she says. “We are normal, we just need…a little extra attention.”
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