Dhaka, Bangladesh
At a crossroads of choice

At a crossroads of choice

Build on your strengths to face situations positively. Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference." These lines from the poem, The Road not taken by Robert Frost, resonates with simplicity, couched in the wisdom of human experience. As you are reading this, it is possible that you might be going through a similar dilemma, which is manifesting in various forms. It could be an uncertainty, about which course to apply for after school or if employed, wondering whether there are other choices to explore. Whatever the scenario, it is the nature of the trajectory of life, to give us this hidden blessing to ask ourselves, "What do we do next?", "Which road shall I take?" Decisions In personal interactions with students, one finds that the lack of introspection and self-reflection drowns out their own authentic voice. The barrage of noise from the expectations of their family, society or the opinions of friends, leaves them only more confused. Often, just the sheer demand of preparing for entrance exams and scoring marks, leaves very little time for harassed families and students to pay attention, to their calling within. In this anxiety, decisions are made from a foundation of fear and anxiety. The decision to pursue a rigorous course of study such as medicine, engineering and law, is taken without understanding the nature of these professions. When we would ask students who opted for engineering, whether they had an idea of what an engineer's work entails, the various branches in this field or whether they have an aptitude to create solutions, they would often reply that their choice of course was solely decided by a combination of marks and peer pressure. What one forgets in this race is that these careers have both a high financial and time commitment, and unless one is aware of this, joining a course offers only temporary security. Many of us have faced such situations where we enrolled in courses only to find that we have neither the interest nor aptitude. Practical measures There are a few steps that one can take on a practical basis. Firstly, understand that it is perfectly legitimate to be confused. This period of confusion, if approached in a healthy manner, can clear the way for what really needs to happen. If you view it is a gift that life has given to you, to channelise your frustration to actively research possibilities, you will find that this positive approach helps you, build your own strengths to face future situations. Use your time to investigate the various options available. For example, if you feel that you are interested in human behaviour and helping people, explore the diverse areas where these skills can be used. You might want to look at psychology and find out the various fields where you can work. While being a psychologist maybe one option, the field of psychology has an important role in areas as diverse as armed forces and hospitality management. It is important to talk to people in the field, so you get a holistic perspective. During your summer vacation, you might even want to consider volunteering or interning in your areas of interest. A young student of mine worked in a cancer hospice centre where she became very interested in building design and architecture, thinking about ways buildings can be spaces for healing! Open your mind and do not be afraid to move out of your comfort zone; you never know when the next opportunity is waiting to present itself. Examples in history Finally, understand and trust that we all have the potential to contribute in some way to the world we live in. There is no compulsion to have all the answers before you begin. The greatest leaders in history like Gandhi have harnessed immense, when everything they were secure about, crumbled. Gandhi describes how being thrown out of a first class railway compartment in South Africa. The pain of a bruised ego and watching his identity as a lawyer crumble, was the stimulus for an inner calling, which led to a resistance movement that transformed a nation and continues to inspire many. Our own stories may not be as dramatic! All we need to do is to trust those moments when we are at a crossroads of choice, and in complete humility, accept we do not know. An adventure of unexplored trails will open itself and you will meet and live life, from your own reservoir of strength.

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