Most of the choices I’ve made, that led to who I am today can probably be attributed to three quotes; lines that have stuck with me through the years. These are words that I hear, resonating in my head every time there is a decision to be made or when I’m not sure whether to take on a new adventure.
“Write what you know.” -Mark Twain
I was probably around 7 years old when I heard this. I could barely spell, had a very limited vocabulary, and yet I was already convinced that writing was my calling. I figured that the quote meant to write only about emotions and circumstances that you’ve experienced; to do research and be knowledgeable enough about a subject before writing about it; etc. Except, I might have taken it a step further.
In Action: When I first heard this literary adage, I thought, Well that doesn’t seem fair. I’m a child, I’m a nerd, I’m kinda boring and all I do is read. Who’d want to read about that? So ever since then, I made it my mission to experience different things. As a little kid, I would rebel in silly ways like saying words that I thought were taboo. I made friends with people who were very different from me. I sometimes knowingly made poor decisions. Everyday, I adventured into different things as if I were being guided by a writing prompt. I create dilemmas and problems to make life interesting. To this day, because of this adage, although my rebellious spirit has mellowed, I’m still constantly trying new things; learning new skills; picking up new hobbies; still finding myself saying “Yes!” to things that aren’t within my comfort zone.
[…]Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.
This is a fragment of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. We discussed it in high school and it has stuck with me ever since. There are a few conflicting interpretations for the poem like… One: it’s about individuality, and finding the courage to choose a path that most shy away from; two: that it’s about feeling remorseful while wondering about the road not taken and the possibilities and opportunities one might have missed; three: that the roads or our choices are essentially very similar–which makes the decision all the more difficult–andit is almost inevitable to look back one day and wonder what would have happened, had we taken the other road.
In action: I took it as a cautionary tale. When I am older and I look back & reminisce, the last thing I want to feel is a sense of regret for not having explored certain paths. So when faced with a decision (or indecision) I quickly choose a path with a here goes nothing mentality. Should I fail or later on come to realize that it probably wasn’t the best choice, I just retake my steps and try again. Some may say it’s a terrible way to go about things; that it’s better to consider everything carefully when making decisions to avoid setbacks. But you know what? I think there is value in trial and error; there’s always something to be learned from missteps. Also, refer to my “In Action” for quote 1.
Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well
I first read this being quoted in an email, by an admired family member after I made the decision to quit studying computer science and take a break from university. However, at the time, I was still under the (somewhat naive) impression that if something is meant for me, it should come easy. It took a lot of growing up, maturity and open-mindedness to understand this last quote.
In action: It’s not that I think we should only pursue dreams and goals that come with a lot of obstacles and drama, rather I believe that worthwhile endeavours all come with its set of challenges. However, these hardships shouldn’t deter me from pursuing something I really want. Challenges should be viewed as nothing but challenges, that can be overcome with passion and will; from which there is always something to be gained. After all, if I really wanted to achieve something, isn’t it at the very least, worth working really hard for?