BEZAWADA: Despite bleak present, change is possible
Opinions Column: Traipse the Fine Line
It took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to come up with this title, and I still don’t like it. Then again, it’s not like I’ll ever be truly proud of my work. After discovering I’d become a columnist for The Daily Targum, I read my ninth-grade application to my high school’s newspaper, a piece I thought to be my best. It’s actually garbage.
We all experience that phase in our lives. You try your absolute best on a math exam, handing it in last after reviewing your work 70 times over, until you realize you wrote 5 + 3 = 15 instead of 8 and the numbing dread seeps in. Or when you’ve thought of an idea so novel that you know it will rocket you to the fame everyone secretly dreams of having until you check online and find someone halfway around the world has already done it. And you go to bed thinking you knew it would never work anyway. We always feel bad, even when we think we don’t care.
At these times the question arises — since everything we do is nullified by other uncontrollable factors, then what’s the point of doing anything at all?
To this day, I struggle with this existential paradox. I wonder whether my work will ever culminate into something I can be at least vaguely proud of, or if my work itself is good enough — considering it will probably be outdone by somebody else’s. I then begin to ponder what my worth is in relation to the people around me, and the vicious cycle continues. It’s like riding the Swing at the End of the World.
During such somber times, there are three activities I like to do.
First, I reread Stephen King’s essay, “Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully - in Ten Minutes”.
In the brief essay, the world-famous author recounts a story of how he was propelled into the world of fiction-writing. As a punishment for libelous comments about his school teachers, King was forced to write sports for the town’s weekly paper. Sports was the last thing he cared about. How could a nerdy, budding fiction writer talk about sports? It was difficult and uninteresting, but as he continued writing, he honed the craft that would later constitute King’s most widely recognized work.
The interesting thing is it wasn’t necessarily King’s attitude that drove him through. After all, he was coerced. If he hadn’t gotten caught, he probably never would have attempted sports writing. But alternate realities are not accessible to most people, so King decided to just go with it. He knew he had no other choice. And as he flowed along doing something he never wanted to do, he wound up carving his own trail to who he is today. It’s all about acknowledging your situation, accepting it because there’s no way around and finally just going for it. The same forces that put you into your less-than-ideal state will eventually open up opportunities you never had access to, so long as you stop avoiding your problem and at the very least giving it a try.
Second, I reread sections of Shaun David Hutchinson’s novel "We Are the Ants."
In the dark, sharply witty book, Henry Denton has been overcome by a perpetual state of self-hate, guilt and apathy toward the world and his own existence after his boyfriend Jesse Franklin committed suicide. These negative thoughts are compounded by various complex family, school and social problems. At one point in the book, Henry wonders whether he, his friends or his parents are to blame for Jesse’s death, but eventually, he settles upon blaming himself because it gives him a sense of closure. With startling clarity and simplicity, his partner Diego replies, “sometimes things just happen … and they’re no one’s fault.”
Granted, most people have not encountered tragedy to this extent. But we have faced almost insurmountable regret, guilt over failed efforts and frustration with our own shortcomings. We combat this by scapegoating, and most often the victim is ourselves. It’s the easiest and most logical option. But by accusing yourself, you give yourself no chance to testify — no chance to prove your own worth, which is simply the fact that you are human just like billions of others. Not giving a chance is the worst punishment you could ever inflict upon yourself.
Finally, to address the question directly — when there are so many uncontrolled variables negatively impacting your life, what’s the point? Well, lots of things can change. You trip in public, your application is rejected, you never seem to be good enough. But if you can’t trust anything else, just remember that there is indeed one constant in your life you can rely on, that nothing can match, that makes all the difference — you.
Sruti Bezawada is a Rutgers Business School first-year hoping to transfer into the School of Arts and Sciences and double major in computer science and communications. Her column, “Traipse the Fine Line”, runs on alternate Thursdays.
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