(I wrote this in 2007 for a student journal. Hence the slightly preachy tone.)
Ever been called to lunch and refused it or postponed it because you had a late breakfast and were not hungry? Ever seen people cajoled into a marriage, even if they were not ready, because it was time for them? In short, have you ever, when told it was time, felt otherwise?
Some people choose the evening snack over the lunch. Many choose to remain unmarried if they realise they can’t do justice to the bond. What do you think separates these people, however moderately, from the great majority who live by the book?
It is the realisation that there are more tracks than one to choose from. Nobody’s life is predetermined. There are a thousand different ways to go in at any point in your life. And cliché as it may sound; you ARE in charge of your life.
Career paths are usually laid out in order of merit. The best on top and the less promising below. Sadly, this numbered list is so off the mark, even with the basics, that it serves no useful purpose whatsoever in the long run. The average clueless student (and I mean clueless in a good way) is asked to choose from a given number of careers. These inevitably, are the most popular ones.
The shortsighted ones will tell you that there is no hope beyond what lies before you now. They will also tell you how foolish you are to even consider the possibility that you can be different. You will find it difficult to resist their words, because they have, over time, convinced you that being stubborn is bad. That being different is just not done.
The math of it is simple actually. The world works like a machine. People are cogs. It is easy to be a cog. You move with the other cogs, which move with the others. There is very little you can decide, if you want to decide at all. The machine conditions the brains out of you and soon you are happy to be a cog, unable and unwilling to look beyond a cog’s existence. In time, you will even recommend a cog’s life to others.
I am not saying cogs are not important. I am saying you don’t have to be one just because everyone you know is one. Not if you can be something else. Something you will be happier as. Something you can do that no one else can.
You can start by assigning the list of careers to trash. Realise that there is only one list. And that list is inside you. It is made up of all the things you can do and want to do. Maybe you can do more than one thing. Maybe it’s something nobody would bother doing. Maybe it’s something nobody has ever done. It wouldn’t matter, because the answer, unlike the so many disembodied voices you grew up hearing, would come from within yourself.
It is time when you decide it is time. Not yet? That’s just fine. Hone yourself if you have to. Learn more, unlearn a few things. Get back that stubborn streak you were caned and conditioned out of. That’s the way!
With all due respect to the cogs, in time, you will run the machine.