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'There are countless points in anyone's life that they wish they could change'

TIDINGS FILE PHOTO - Kaleigh Henderson, West Linn Tidings - Education  You make choices, and as a result of those choices, things will happen that might not have happened had you chosen differently.

I know what you're thinking: um, duh? But this one simple, existential fact has made me realize what one person can be capable of.

The first time I remember being aware of this phenomenon was the final project of my eighth grade leadership class. The project was to brainstorm and organize a school-wide holiday event before winter break. I came up with the idea of a door-decorating competition. Every first-period class would come up with a theme and decorate their classroom door, and then on the day before winter break, the winner would be announced at a school assembly.

Before I knew it, doors all over the school were being decorated. History classes made scenes of historical events, English classes recreated book covers, the art room's door could have been found in the Met. The winning class was a special needs class, who turned their door into a "Despicable Me" Minion.

And it was my idea. I was the mastermind behind this whole team-building, school-bonding hullabaloo. What if I had decided to take another class instead of leadership? What if I had been put into a different group? What if I had been too shy to voice my idea to the class? All of these what-ifs would have led to a school week with less joy, less community and less school spirit.

When I first received this year's Tidings column schedule, there were only two West Linn columnists. I am now in a leadership position in my school's journalism class, a class is filled with 40 aspiring writers. Yet out of those 40, I was the only person taking advantage of this invaluable opportunity.

Not on my watch.

By the end of the day, I had recruited 15 new possible columnists, two of whom weren't even in my class. Because of me, they may now have this amazing experience, the same experience I had. It might just change their lives.

Long story short, you might see a couple new faces in this space very soon.

Although it might not be evident at the time, the choices you make now have long-term consequences. There are countless points in anyone's life that they wish they could change. No, you can't change the past, but you can change the present and the present can change the future. Think about your choices and their consequences today. Shape that future before it's here. Your future self will thank you.

Kaleigh Henderson is a senior at West Linn High School.

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