We are all different. That much must be obvious, right? Yet we tend to forget this simple fact so often that we end up comparing ourselves with others to pique our self-loathing, as if facing the daily challenges of life weren’t hard enough. We attempt to blunt the edges of our personalities or conform to the patterns of this world with the sole intention of fitting in. It’s quite normal to be in search of a place where we can belong, but the question is, if you’re no longer yourself, what is the point of belonging?
This is a part of the conclusion I’ve come to after spending many hours thinking about what to do with my life and what the next step will be. Although technically I’m still a second-year student, fingers crossed, I’ll be graduating next year, at the age of five-and-twenty. It’s extremely scary when you realize you’re in the midst of a vast ocean of uncertainties, especially when you’re reaching an age by which your path in life should have become clearer. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but for a long painful week, I was completely off my head. One day I would be absolutely assured that I should pursue a doctoral degree right after school, then I’d panic about what subject I’d work on. Another day, I’d remind myself that I’ve been a student for seven years already and am pretty tired of this schedule, which would result in a firm decision to never ever go to graduate school. When I finally came to my senses and remembered how much I’d like to teach and be a part of academia, a subtle idea sneaked into the curves of my brain and whispered: “Are you ready to settle for that little while there are so many other causes to fight for?”
That scared me more than any of the other crazy thoughts I’ve had so far—and honestly, there have been way too many of them. Wouldn’t it be more honorable to join an organization to fight against sex trafficking, for instance? Or become a volunteer in Africa to build a school and teach there? How can I possibly make a healthy decision when I’m already too stressed about choosing the right path? Luckily, just at this point, I ran across a few posts online about a new “condition” that defines exactly how I feel: quarter-life crisis—that is, feeling the pressure of making the right choices to become an adult. Knowing that I’m not the only one facing this hideous calamity of our age group had a somewhat soothing effect on me. A few days later, I had a coffee date with a brilliant friend of mine, and, surprise—she was going through this same annoying phase as well.
Frankly, I really was surprised to hear that, because I had always thought she was one of those people who had it together. Although she’s teaching science right now, she wants to study medicine and become one of those amazing doctors who would serve anywhere in the world. As we were talking, she told me about her summer plans: going to Africa to help a doctor who is in charge of tiny clinics in mountain villages—places that are barely accessible by small planes. There she was, becoming one of those people I’d love to be like, getting excited about a lifestyle I could barely imagine. Then I understood—that’s not what I’m called to do. To further investigate the truth of this epiphany, I asked her whether she’d like to write a book one day, which is one of my biggest dreams. The answer came right away: “I couldn’t possibly think of myself writing, I simply couldn’t.” Her answer confirmed what I’ve started to realize—we are all different. I can’t think of a life without writing. The words don’t always place themselves on the paper for me so easily, but I still have an urge to write, a feeling I can’t fight against, whereas she wouldn’t even consider a life of writing. What makes one dream more precious than the other? Sure, her job as a doctor will be more practically useful than my potential future as a professor, but as long as a person does his/her job wholeheartedly, there is always a chance of having a positive effect on the people around one. I finally embraced the idea of “settling down,” pulled myself together and started to fill in the application forms. Who knows what life will bring for the next step? Doing something is always better than doing nothing, though, and if my fears come true and I fail, it’s never too late to start over again.
P.S.: “A society that devours its own young deserves no automatic or unquestioning allegiance,” says Pat Barker. Your story will be kept alive, Berkin Elvan. Rest in peace…