They say that what you get out of life depends upon what you put in. While undeniable in many cases, it’s simply irrelevant in others. We may be equal in the eyes of your average, open-minded being, but unfortunately reality does not (yet) mirror this ideal. As a race, we’ve come a long way, but still have far to go.
A dense start – my apologies. Forgive my introspection, but finishing University makes me ask exactly what I’ve put in to get here. How do I compare to my peers in terms of academics, social engagements, media following, mental well-being? Do they also now question following the conventional route into whatever career they think they need? Why do I care what they think? Indeed, why do you care what I think?
I’ll tell you.
For those blessed (or cursed) with a cynical mind, the world appears a simpler and somewhat darker place than it does to everyone else. Or so I imagine. This isn’t to say we spend all of our time pondering gloomy thoughts and degrading our fellow humans with snide, snarky and sarcastic remarks – although that does occur. Cynicism allows us not to automatically believe the spoken word or take the news as gospel. To both listen to and question the heuristics that underlie everyday behaviour: one part cynicism, two parts curiosity.
Despite being made with more than my fair share of confidence and an uncanny ability to swan through life thus far, I am not content. Youthful aspirations of something more have remained motionless; mere aspirations. At least in part, this stems from caring too much about what people think. Society has moulded me to think that I should. Judge and be judged. The question I should be asking is: Do I care enough about other people? Honestly, I don’t know that I do. Given the constant barrage of ill tidings from the media, often we turn our backs and blink the plight of others away. I know I have done. I plan to change this attitude and hope, even in the smallest of small ways, to encourage you to think likewise.
Up to this point in my life I’ve done my utmost to ensure that every academia-based, career-wise junction in my life is left as open and road-filled as possible. If a door to a future life can be left ajar, wedge it. Decisions have never been my family’s strong-suit. Blame my mother. It does, however, get to the stage now where something has to give and I’ve decided, in the most reasonable way possible, that deciding still isn’t my forte. “Take a gap year” echoes around my brain. Marmite-like in consensus, opinions on gap years seem to be divided in a fairly major way. Some insist it’s a complete waste of time for people who’ll just bum around, shagging, drinking too much for the sake of it and not facing the future. Others say a year out is probably and/or sadly the last chance to experience something incredible and culturally significant before committing to a career that may take up rather a lot of your future self’s time and energy. I’m in the latter camp, obviously.
While part of me agrees that simply bumming around the world isn’t an option, the better part of me; the impulsive, creative, wannabe altruistic part, wants to do something spectacular. See something brilliant. Be enriched by another culture and help other people without seeking anything in return.
It starts this August.
It was first put to me that I should take part in a trip across India in Tuk-Tuk months ago, and without really thinking it would happen I agreed the plan at least had potential. One group was already set to go and if I found or was recruited by another, then one Tuk-Tuk would become two. The fact that our 2000 mile trip across the breadth of India was embraced, apart from it being one hell of an adventure, in order to raise money for a charity of our choice, was an added bonus. Now that the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted, I’m more than excited to be doing it for a cause. We drive from Shillong to Kochi over two and half weeks and will deal with a probable plethora of driving predicaments in a machine run essentially by a lawnmower engine. It will be a journey that I hope will give me a glimpse of what India has to offer and to raise money for the charity Chiks, which helps orphans in Kerala.
The months after India remain somewhat of a mystery to me, but plans are beginning to come together that will hopefully enable me to stave off the probably more sensible pursuit of money and simultaneously redirect my attentions towards something that will make a difference not just to me, but to other people as well. For us cynics, the concept of capitulating to a life devoted to money and materialisms is, possibly naively, frankly detestable. To not battle that cynicism and do something productive and of more consequence seems overly underwhelming, idiotic and wholly inadequate.
While I was lying awake thinking about starting this post, (for both peace of mind and the slim odds of making any sense to anyone) I had a mentionable thought, a Thought for the Day as a wise school friend once said: Given that life is a series of adjustments; try to realise how you want to be by the time you reach the end of it.
I think I know how I want to be, and I mean to start now.
To find out more about the charity Chiks, what we’re doing or to sponsor us click here