“Success is only another form of failure if we forget what our priorities should be.” ~ Harry Lloyd
It’s easy when you are 25. At that time, you’ll either be a winner or a loser in what you’ve done so far and the path ahead will be quite clear – either keep on trying or change the field. But when you’re 16 and have a major turning point ahead… a point which can decide what you’re going to do when you are 25, it’s a lot tougher. You are usually torn between the need to keep your dream glowing and the need to keep your heart where everyone else says it should be. You keep playing the game by the rules others had set, just like a helpless 6-year old kid. No matter how boring and uneventful the game gets, everyone urges you to stick on to it, because that’s what really matters, when it comes to your future.
You feel like you don’t belong in that particular game, but unfortunately, you don’t trust yourself enough to abandon it all together. What if that one choice to give it up turned out to be the greatest mistake that you would regret ever doing it years and years later? And how can you be so sure that the people around you are not right and that you’re not wrong? How do you even know if what you think is your dream or passion, isn’t just a whim of which you’ll get bored later on? It’s baffling at times and that’s what makes you so confused about your priorities and where they lie.
Let’s just consider that one takes academics as his/her priority. That will mean you won’t have enough time for anything else. You’ll be engrossed with your books and neither look to the left side nor right, but just go on like a half-blinded horse down the only path it’s directed. Then there’ll be huge success in academics and you’ll get into a highly reputed college and get a seat [say, medical] out of pure merit. Then you’ll study like hell and get the PG degrees too. By the time you’re 25, you’ll be working and soon you’ll be married. Then there’ll be competition for the priority in your mind – family or work. And no matter what you choose, in the end, you’ll be able to start your social work only at the age of 25. Suppose your spouse is extremely understanding, you can then get your dreams fired up.
Then let’s consider the other extreme: You focus only on your dream. Your performance in academics becomes ‘fair [for your usual standards]’ and you get into a college which corresponds to your performance and people start thinking you’re a loser. You keep up with your social work, but there is resistance all around because people don’t believe or appreciate in what you’re doing. You get an ordinary degree and by the time you finish it and get into some job, you’ve begun to work extra hard to achieve your dream and you’re nearly there. Then you get married and your spouse is definitely a person who should understand [or pretends to understand for a couple of years]. But then family comes and when you don’t feel financially secure because of your less lucrative and lower job, you suddenly realize your spouse doesn’t really think what you’re doing is wonderful. Then starts a series of disagreements and unhappy times when neither feels complete around the other.
To summarize the ramble above, extremely concentrating on academics may make it too late for realizing your dream, as the spark had long ago vanished from your heart. On the other hand, concentrating only on your dream will make you lonely and disheartened, which will make you more cynical and skeptic about your own ideas and decisions. You’re life will be fierce, but you’ll have few people to acknowledge your sweat and blood. In other word, scholars will have a life of too many soft things and fighters will have one of too many rough things.
What I should be searching for, however, is a balance between the two extremes. An equilibrium between the too much and the too little and yet achieve the same results. A safe position where you can realize your dreams and be a success in the eyes of the people, both at the same time. Whether that sort of security in life is possible or not is yet to be discovered.
In the meantime, I'm still pondering - There's a difference between one's ambition and one's dream and a life that's truly colorful isn't made up of just one of them... Besides, who says priorities should be just one? Like Stephen. R Covey says,
“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”