Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde once wrote, “One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead.” As I make enormous decisions in terms of which major, degree and career to pursue, this quote caused me to pause. Am I truly following my heart? Am I leading the life I can call my own?
One of my greatest fears is to find myself trapped, enslaved in an existence I regret. I’ll admit that I am terrified of reaching 50 and being disappointed in myself; dismayed by the people I didn’t meet, by the places I didn’t go, and by the problems I could have solved, but didn’t.
I believe the world can be a daunting and overwhelming place, and it is easy to want to take the “easy” route, choose a safe career and live a sheltered life. And yet, by looking at some of the great people of our time, the immense value in following your heart is exemplified. Take Madame Curie, the influential physicist and chemist who, despite social norms against women in science, discovered two elements, created the theory of radioactivity, and won two Nobel Prizes - the only woman to ever do so. Her discoveries were revolutionizing and continue to impact science today. I am emboldened to continue on my quest for my “real life”; a life in which I follow my passions and dreams, a life in which I can be an advocate for change, a life in which I make a difference.