I know the past week has been as eventful as it could be. It was the most eventful week of your life, at least since the day you decided to pursue Science. Congratulations on achieving the fellowship and being in the top 2%. I’m really proud of you.
However, an anxiety has been gripping you ever since the result came out. You think you got it because of sheer dumb luck. Let me ask you, was it really just luck? Was sitting in that examination hall year after year your decision or fate? Wasn’t everyone telling you you made the difficult (aka wrong) choice? Who was the one figuring out color charges of quarks when she could have pondered about what colors suited her best for the date outfit? Yet you proceeded because you knew your heart. You knew you wanted it bad enough.
You had doubts. You knew it’d be difficult. You went for the interviews and blew it. Not once, not twice, but thrice, in a row. It was you who knew nada about Simpson’s rule but tried to integrate one upon x to the power n-1 anyway, in front of 5 scientists. Weren’t those 5 people laughing? A nobody trying to ‘do’ maths a new way, in front of 5 experts of the field. It was embarrassing beyond measure. Yet, at the end of the interview they asked you to keep working. They asked you to study some more and come back. They never said you can’t do it or that you don’t have the talent.
If the worst review you ever got was ‘come back after more preparation’ (by the absolute best people of the field, mind you), you must have something. If they can believe in you, why can’t you believe yourself?
I know it all started after that response you got from a former acquaintance. He was the first one to literally say that you made the wrong decision and should have known better. Tell me, does he actually know you that well? He wouldn’t recognize your face if you were to appear in front of him, because you simply interacted a long time ago, very formally. He is judging from that impression of you, or rather a general impression of all the students he has met of your batch. None of your colleagues have sought this path. Clearly it is not a popular choice. He doesn’t know your journey or your expertise. He wasn’t talking personally about you, rather from a general perspective.
But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong entirely. He wants to convey that it would be difficult for you, thats all. He wishes the best for you. He thinks you would be better off in a career which is safe and familiar because that is what he views as the criterion for choosing a career. You, on the other hand, view things differently. You make choices based on your gut feeling.
Don’t get me wrong, I know you do your job diligently, day in and day out. You got the fellowship without any formal education, didn’t you? You really know your subject and you are sincere. But you know it isn’t exactly the lucrative or secure path. You are blessed in the way that you need not worry about financial matters as much as others. You can take risks. At least for now. But you can’t take the risk of regretting at the age of 80 that you could have been a scientist. You dread that the most. Hence you chose this way.
Even if it all goes to nothing, you will have the satisfaction of trying your best and learning laws of the universe along the way. Isn’t that all we need? To be consumed by a desire so great that even a great blow feels like a mosquito bite? To go to the bed with contentment and to rise with passion? This is what life is about.
Don’t get disheartened my love. There are no wrong paths. Every path is difficult. However, the kind of difficulty is different and felt differently by each individual. The path you chose resembles a little out of tune at the moment, but you’ll find your music. You have what it takes to get in tune with it, it would demand a bit more effort on your part, thats all.
Go forth with that resonates with your heart, because having your heart on your side will make you conquer everything.