“I don’t know what is worse: to not know what you are and be happy or to become what you’ve always wanted to be and feel alone.”
Here is the dilemma I have been struggling with ever since… I don’t even know, it probably dates back to elementary school, because that’s when the “popular vs. unpopular” and “boys-girls” concepts started to get drilled into my head. When I saw this quote in the book Flowers for Algernon, which I have been introduced to by my boyfriend, I was a little shocked to see how someone was able to squeeze the last 15 years of my life in less than 30 words. “That’s it,” I thought to myself, “That is my dilemma.”
Just like shots, one came after the other. It was already winter break when I read this quotation by Daniel Keyes and then the semester started with my IDS classes, which led me to a labyrinth of self-discovery, possibly a more confusing one than the maze in Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire. My IDS 1 is called Freedom, Justice and the Good Life and IDS 2 is mostly about Romanticism, Enlightenment Era and Revolution. As IDS 2 was not that challenging in terms of understanding life, I can’t say the same for IDS 1. I dragged going to that class not only because it made me uncomfortable, but also because it was pushing me into the direction of becoming a romantic hero which no one has time for. Honestly, it’s just life and I’m just living it! Let me just celebrate ignorance like almost 99% of the people at my age!
Needless to say, our IDS 1 prof, Dr. Portfleet, is someone Plato would love to have coffee with. From what she’s told us, there had been people who changed their majors after taking her class; she pissed off many parents because she encouraged many of her students to become ballerinas instead of doctors or high-end business people. However somehow, the class discussions still end in the answer of ‘family and friends are the key to happiness’. On average, she makes us question who we are and what we want from life, 5 times in 1 class period. And I’ve had enough of it.
People ask me how I decide on the topic I want to write about, for The Anchor. Simple; I skim through the news on CNN or Al Jazeera and write on the issue I get most upset about. If you know me, you also know how I have low tolerance and high temper for world issues. If I could, I would have a long chat with Netanyahu to tell him he should stop fussing around. Seriously.
Anyway, going back to the IDS… This is how I have decided to write about my class because it appears as from her wise perspective, a way to a good life is maintained by true love, waking up next to this one person every morning, yelling at your husband for climbing trees at the age of 65, getting frustrated with your wife because she never gets up before you, watching your baby’s nose twitch when he/ she is sleeping etc… Clearly these are not her exact words. But she did tell us a story about one of her old students who became a famous news anchor and has all the money in the world yet is still not happy. I don’t get it. That’s honestly what I want to become in life. That is literally what I want to do and now this professor is shattering my dreams by telling me that I probably won’t find contentment in that. No, I refuse to believe that. I want to be a journalist and if possible, I want to become feminist Cronkite of our generation, maybe take down the McCarthy of the next administration. It is going to be a lonely life; I will work terrible hours and leave behind a lot of people I love but that’s okay, I have a mission and I will not stop until I get there.
Now don’t get me wrong, I support everything about having a loving, happy family; waking up next to a great guy, watching my baby’s nose twitch and stuff. No one can tell me I’m a heartless workaholic when I think about naming my future daughter Dakota because of this song by Coconut Records; a song that gets me every time even though there are no lyrics to it. Clearly I have emotions, clearly I want my own family and want to go on a backpacking trip with them in the Netherlands one day. However, I also know that I cannot be happy with a pink collar job, the easy way, the secure path; and I can’t be a good mother, a good wife, or a good girlfriend if I am not content with where I am at in life.
How is it that we get to be shamed for being Don Quixote-s of our time? I want to make a difference, I want to help people with my own skill set and be able to say “I really did my best to civilize this place” when I am 80. Since I am not smart enough to do it from a laboratory or patient enough to achieve that from a classroom (exception: lecture halls), I have to stick with helping to inform people; visiting refugee camps and writing about them; becoming a lobbyist and fighting for what I stand for; if necessary, protecting the world citizens from their own governments by relying on the law. I don’t know what it is going to be or how I am going to even get there but I just don’t want to be shamed for choosing this path and get asked to give away my dreams of having a family. I stand an equal chance of finding love and happiness just like the other girls, regardless my major or future profession.
It is always told that elderly say “I wish I spent more time with my loved ones”… That’s their sole advice? No, there is more to it. “You will regret what you didn’t do, not what you did” is another one they love giving which is usually followed by a long pause so you can digest what they meant. Does it mean you should pick a lifetime opportunity over your relationship? But doesn’t that imply that you are not going after your love, and you might regret that later?
This is why I ate 13 chocolate chip pancakes, because I was angry and incredibly confused. I take life lessons very seriously and this one, for the obvious reasons, really hurt me. So I tried to eat away my anger, with a lot of chocolate chip pancakes asking myself “What am I going to do now??“. Ironically I found the answer as I was writing… I am just going to keep writing, to try to make the world a better place. Because…