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[personal profile] aguu
I blame myself for reading Paolo Coelho’s The Winner Stands Alone. Written as an essay for a friend, I hope it’s all right, although pretty ranty. Most of the stuff down there’s true, by the way, although I never considered anthropology.

Do your own thing, not just the ‘I’ll make it big, become very rich and possibly happy’ kind of thing. It’s the biggest decision and biggest fear everyone has to make, from filling in various application forms, falling in lines to pay for them, usually accompanied by a well-meaning guardian, although in my case, I had to go through it alone. “Where are your parents?” Students-to-be and parents asked, as I looked around, lost and clutching at my forms like it was the last thing I would ever do by myself.

If it doesn’t begin in the formative years, it manifests when the application forms, the colleges are all handing you packets of this and that, saying “Don’t worry, just choose your passion,” and forgetting to add “we’ll make sure you pay good money so we can make you believe you’re actually going to make it, with a course like that on your CV.” Suddenly it’s all about what you want to do versus how much stability you’ll have; how much you’re willing to sacrifice, from principles to dreams to money and status. There’s the fear of not being successful if you’re not from “The Big Four,” even if you tell them “It’s not the name of the school, it’s what courses they offered, and The Big Four didn’t have the one I wanted.” or “I don’t want to get by because I attended That School That Everyone Knows.”

When you resolve that problem, you stare at all the courses, think about what you really want to do and who you really want to become. Spider-splinters of doubt and fear decide it’s time to pay you a visit and questions start to form.

“Am I really cut out to be a professional nurse? Doctor?”

“Am I really interested in anthropology, sociology, psychology, biology, even biochemistry?”

“Do I really have the stomach (and the will, don’t forget the will) to face rejection, harsh critics that do nothing but break dreams, hunger, the possibility of realizing that what you mistook for passion and talent were just lucky breaks–flukes?”

What if your passion, the one reason that kept you sane and sleeping well at night wasn’t the right path? And what of the parents, who have their own private reasons for letting their child choose (or conversely, letting their child realize that they don’t want to take unnecessary risks), for realizing that if you let the child choose for him or herself, they’ll fail, end up jobless and alone (and of course, blame you).

Being told to do your own thing because no one else can – what happened to my world back then has no effect on the you of yesteryear. Pluck those strings, tune that ear and sing from your diaphragm, sing with your hands and your heart because no one else can.

And what if your thing seems more dangerous, more likely to explode if you’re not calibrated to aim for something lower (or less ambitious)? That is when we learn courage and perseverance, when we learn to make do with what cards we’ve been dealt with in this dark room, where no one really knows the rules and how this game’s played. All that’s important is what you do with your turn before you put your hands up, say “All in” and push your chips to the center of the table and die a winner, or a loser (and the loser, I understand, may wind up in some very hot water).

So do what you were born to do, and never stop doing it. If you’re pushed into a course you don’t like, find a way around it. If you’re lucky enough to be supported all the way, then do your best. The world isn’t fair, it’s greedy. The world doesn’t think about what it can do for you unless you give a piece of your soul to the world, and even then it may not be enough to save you. But if your planets align and your stars start to sing, then maybe, just maybe, the world will turn its’ face on you, and if it’s in a good mood, you might even receive a slice of happily-ever-after cake.

That’s all we could ever ask for, isn’t it?
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