A Life of Choices, a Choice for Life.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both. And be one traveller, long I stood; And looked down one as far as I could” — Robert Frost
Ever since I joined IIT Gandhinagar, I have been constantly made aware, by my parents, teachers and (not so) close relatives, of my entry into that part of life we call adulthood. As usual, the questions came first. How does one become an adult? Is it because of age, but isn’t that just a number? If not, then why now? What is expected of adults? And what does it mean to be one?
Biologically speaking, to be an adult is to be capable of reproduction. And while that may hold for other species, we humans are far too social for it to mean simply that. So far, what I have realised is that, in our case, it has a lot to do with making your own choices and taking responsibility for them. Till now, most of our major life decisions were taken either by people with more experience, or they were based on conventions that continue to be followed. While this may have seemed quite constraining, it also protected us from facing failure. When something went wrong, we always had someone watching over us, possibly taking the heat; there was endless room for exploration without being too worried about making mistakes.
I have noticed that becoming a legal adult changes many things. It comes with a lot of freedom, often more than we know what to do with. You have to take responsibility for your actions, how they affect you, and the implications it may have for the world. You also have to understand how your surroundings impact you. Most importantly, all important choices are yours to make. If you are successful, the glory is all yours. If you fail, well, you have to own your mistakes too. You can still explore; you will have to. But it won’t be tax-free anymore. Society has set some standards, some expectations for everyone. To be socially healthy, you need to meet them.
Today we live in a world where we have an abundance of choices. Which course to choose? What clothes to wear? What to have for dinner? Each of these questions offers so many options that it can often become paralysing. Even if we choose one, we can’t help but wonder about others and whether they would have been better. It is elementary for someone new to all of this to feel overwhelmed. At such times, it is essential to remember that no choice is right or wrong even before you begin. So no matter how tedious it gets, hang in there, you just have to start, and the rest will follow.
There will be many such instances in life when you have multiple options, and none seem wrong. In such cases, it helps to have a predefined procedure that enables you to make such decisions. You can begin by evaluating your choices and understanding the reason behind why that choice makes sense. You also need to think about the consequences of your decisions: on you, on your future and the world. It is crucial to have a clear conscience while you choose. Most of these will benefit most, if not all, the stakeholders. Lastly, it is always better to choose something that excites you, and chances are you won’t regret it. And even if the results do not match your expectations, don’t dwell too much on the ‘roads not taken’; instead, look ahead to the divergences that await.
Until you choose, you have no idea where it will lead you. There are no assurances in this world. This is one of the essential life lessons you should learn. Nobody ever stated that trying to do the right thing always results in happiness. Gaining fame and money does not imply happiness. Is it okay to cheat, not lose opportunities, just because everyone else is? Especially if you know you deserve it more?. Every decision comes with far too many potential outcomes over which you have no control. The only thing you have control over is the choices you make. So choose carefully. But hey, you don’t have to listen to me; after all, you are an ‘adult’ now.