Another Kind of Courage
I don’t think any of us are strangers to disappointment. And I also don’t think many of us are strangers to the disappointment of not being able to do what you love. Whenever I look on the Internet, every article threatening to expose the secret of a joyous lifestyle divulges one tidbit: be true to yourself.
This is such a vague concept that eludes me. The idea is grand and alluring: the promise of choice and loosening the burden of indecision. We seem to be able to grasp something that will give us a definite purpose and some kind of satisfaction when all is said and done.
But I must survive a background of financial reality where academic achievement is the judge of worth and monetary ability is the arbiter of “real happiness”. Far be it for me to say that money indeed equates happiness – I think we are all developed enough to reason the two terms are not tantamount. However, I cannot deny that without money, happiness does also seem a lot harder to come across.
There are those blessed enough to love something that will also bring them financial stability. These people are the lucky ones. Since my great love is writing, I can see no definite future where a job is guaranteed. The field for science is so much wider, the demand greater, the future more secure.
Somebody I know called me a coward. He said that to be happy you have to drop it all, give it up, surrender your mind and soul to the very crux of motivation. He said I should be brave. He said I was afraid.
I suffered a dreadful sense of shame that I had sold out as he suggested. I felt diminished for my lack of courage to follow my heart. Was I less of a person to want security? Did it speak less of my character that I was not strong enough to brave societal demands and have taken an easier road? Perhaps I have become somebody not quite myself for having turned my back on dreams and aspirations that for so long had defined me.
But the answer is that I am not defined by what I want but what I have. I do not think I am a coward for choosing something different. My road is not easier. It is just simply different. In a way, I believe that I still chug along to what I want. Writing will never leave me and when the time is right, I will pursue it. For now, why should I restrict myself to one dream? Choosing to study science has broadened my understanding of my areas of interest and my dreams have unraveled to build up into something new.
If we are changing constantly, shouldn’t our desires also take up new forms as well? I have not run out of time. I feel it stretching ahead with the expectation that comes with youth and a buzz that I can have it all. I’ve taken a detour to what I want, and if what I want ends up changing, then I will adjust accordingly. Forget the roadmaps. I will draw my own.
That person is correct. I am afraid. I am deathly afraid. I am so scared of everything that it consumes me and pinches my heartbeat into erratic pulses. It is this fear that drives me. It is this fear that props open my eyelids and heightens my sensitivity to every fleeting, wasting, wonderful moment of my little, all-encompassing life.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”