Sunday, November 15, 2009

The girl who said "I'll Follow my Heart!"

*warning: Post is a longish, full of stray thoughts and is comtemplative by nature. It's closer to a personal essay or a journal entry than anything else. I'm trying to discover myself in these lines, defining my purpose. This might bore some of you. Sincere apologies.

“So, have you thought about it?”

The question was heavy with her doubts, timid with her uncertainty.

It was easy for a person like Thunga to ask these kinds of questions. She, after all, wasn’t the one who was trying to classify her academic goals. It was a simplistic affair, deciding on her future. A seat in a reputed engineering college had satisfied her demands and laid a foundation for a bright career in software engineering.
Me? Things weren’t quite that easy for little miss-complicated.

My heart knew only one thing…it wanted to be a student of biology. This decision spelled doom to my slowly acquired nerdiness and a tragic death to all the incredible drama I had stirred up. I was the sort of person who was extremely exam phobic, and they had all thought that my spurts of maniac nervousness translated to a high degree of intelligence. The truth was far from their silent expectation however, and I had turned out to be just somebody average. Not that I was bothered about that, but our group of seven friends saw this differently. They, for some reason, thought I would make a good electrical engineer. At the end of the hectic year, each and every one of them had chosen engineering over all other careers and I had become the odd one out with my stubborn declaration “Whatever I do, I’ll follow my heart.”

They had assumed that my brain had surrendered to the chronic damage inflicted by the Meg Cabots I used to read. Life didn’t work like a fairytale where you woke up one day and just decided you would follow your heart. The age of “I’ll follow my heart,” was supposed to have disappeared with your soft toys and rubber ducks. Of course, it didn’t help that I had impossibly serious-minded focused brains for best friends—the sort of people who would sacrifice any hobby if that would help them get to the IIT’s. Professional success was completely different from whimsical past-times, they advised. Converting your academic interest into a fruitful career meant you were into brilliant things like programming. And here I was, announcing I’d do microbiology, waddle a little bit in engineering to see how I liked it, and also somehow try for medicine. Some thought I had too many aspirations and others simply assumed I was nuts, by the way I was planning things.

It’s not easy to swim against the tide, with nothing but your wishful dreams and your fancy statement, “I’ll follow my heart!” for company. It’s not easy to feel secure and sure of yourself when everybody you know has comfortably settled into their third semester of hardcore-engineering (mechanical, computer science, electrical), when you are stuck at a community college in a foreign country…not quite a university student yet, and not a part time student either. An unsure, impulsive and dreamy-eyed teenager, who never weighed the pros and cons of what she would study, because she thought that was irrelevant when compared to pure interest….a shy dreamer who thought following her heart was more important than anything else in the world….and sometimes, I feel like a course less river, meandering here and there without a sense of solid purpose.

I had dreamed bigger things too…somehow, I was never too scared to dream. It was my nature not to consider things on a logical basis; they destroyed the dreamer in me. My dreams were independent of such things; they were free in every sense. They were beautiful. I dreamt of things like becoming a doctor, I dreamt of saving lives. I also dreamt of studying microbiology, I dreamt of becoming a famous writer. I dreamt of making a difference. I dreamt, again and again, fearlessly. And I dreamt of not quitting.

Now, I’m an engineering student. I’m also a microbiology student, I’m a premed all put into one. But I’m still not anywhere close to my dreams. My ambitions still largely out span my capacities, they out run them. And I’m also still the little miss-average who had once declared, “I'll follow my heart!” who’s stuck at a local community college, I’m someone who can’t clearly say she belongs to a certain university already…. someone who has too many answers when a random uncle questions, “So, what exactly is it that you are doing?” I’m still the person who sees those occasional C’s in her engineering classes and thinks she’s a failure. I'm still nobody special. I decided on engineering to keep them happy, decided on microbiology to keep me happy. And I also decided on a pre-medical, because the dreamer in me hasn’t quit.

What are the odds of a totally average student (of something like biomedical engineering, may I add) making it to medicine? Not very much. But that doesn’t mean I can’t stop trying. It is a stretch, seeming to be a little beyond my limited capacities…my desire battles my capacity as the difficultly increases up a notch with such a demanding degree….surely a mouthful for someone like me. But giving up and abandoning my dreams looks even crueler to me. They asked me to give up when I saw my first C, when my grades were on the verge of slipping even lower….give up, and do something easier with my life-such an easy solution. But my life isn’t truly beautiful when I’m not working towards my dreams, when I’m not following my heart. It’s not fun when I’m not giving it all I can. This is hard, but all I know is that I’m following my heart, I’m listening to myself. I’m still little miss-average, but I’m the little miss-average who hasn’t given up. I’m still the little-miss average who’s trying as hard as she can, who’s continuing to chase her vibrant dreams, who’s sticking to her words, still a little-miss average who’s striving for it, taking one step at a time. Im still the little miss average who's not careless. It’s O.K. if I don’t make it there, but it’s not O.K. to know that I didn’t try. As Elbert Hubbard said, “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” Today, I know I’m listening to myself, and that makes me feel like this is worth it.

And in the end, that’s all that really matters to the girl who said she'd follow her heart.


Anu said...

you are in Biomedical Engg.??? thats just great.... there are plenty of opportunities for you to make your dreams true of treating people... not as a doctor but as a scientist.... one of my closest friends did the same thing...... and always follow your heart and try to get into something that you like... and never regret any decision that you make.....

Omkar said...

No matter what happens in the future, you will always have that sense of satisfaction about your life, for all the decisions you have taken on your own. Sometimes people try to influence others with their personal thoughts, but they fail to understand the fact that, it is more important to encourage a person to make his dream come true rather than creating new mirages in his mind. But it is also true that at the end of the day, it always you, who have to take the decision and I suggest “follow your dreams”.
Personally for me Cricket was more than a part of life. I can confidently bet for having atleast spent a quarter of my life dreaming about it. Academics were never a primary thing ever in my life, even though people around me suggested that I would make big, if I considered it seriously. But for a bibilophobe and abulia like me, it was only a matter of time before I chuck their suggestions aside and start dreaming vigorously again. No matter how horrible or how good the life goes from here, I dare myself to face the consequences, for I am the writer of my Life story. At the same time I remind myself to not to forget to lend my ears to others suggestions, because they can help me know more about myself and my decisions. I need to choose them like a diamond amongst the rock and polish them to make it glitter.
Thanks for such a wonderful post and hope that you are grateful to yourself for all the decisions you have taken. May your life turnout to be a fantasy for others.