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.