Nancy is nineteen. She abides by the rules set out by society, and often keeps her head down. ‘The key to fitting in is to do what Everyone does. Don’t stand out. Its either you’re excellent at what Everyone else does, or you blend in with the chaos in this world.’ That’s Nancy’s mantra. It’s not fascinating, and definitely not the most inspiring.
In the past nineteen years of Nancys’ existence, she has tried to follow her mantra. Doing what Everyone else does? More like what Everyone says is ‘right’ and ‘correct’. In high school, Nancy chose to do chemistry instead of literature, because that’s what ‘everyone’ did. Nancy chose to go to law school because that’s what ‘everyone’ thought was right. She abandoned her dreams of becoming a writer. Nancy didn’t want to break out of the mould of what ‘everyone’ told her to do.
Two years into law school, Everyone’s succeeding. Everyone’s saying they love what they’re doing. Nancy, on the other hand, has been failing. She hates law. Nevermind all the juicy cases and the notions of justice and righteousness. The novelty wore off when Nancy started actually reading law. Nancy sighs. She doesn’t understand - she’s done so well up until now, why isn’t her mantra working anymore?
Let’s take a pause at this moment. Up until now, Nancy always decided to do what Everyone else did. Nancy never did what she wanted to do. It got to the point where Nancy forgot about everything she enjoyed; she got so absorbed in trying hard to do what Everyone did. She used to love writing short stories. The amount of self expression and creativity flowing was simply illuminating for her. Its funny how she decided to conform with what Everyone did. Her mantra kept working because she never dared to break out of the mould. She thought conformity equated to security, which amounted to happiness.
Nancy sighs again. She’s in the library, studying, and finds another rejection email from another law firm. She doesn’t know what she’s doing wrong. She’s doing what Everyone else is doing. Staying in the library till late? Check. Burying her head in thick law textbooks trying to comprehend the various theories of law? Check. Applying for those boring corporate jobs that Everyone keeps talking about? Check. Nancy’s been trying her best to keep up.
Nancy keeps trying, and trying, and trying. She pauses for a moment in the library and starts thinking of the ‘what ifs’. Ah, the ‘what if’ thoughts. It’s what Nancy does whenever she questions why she chose law. What if she didn’t do law? What if she quit law school? What if she just took the risk and started to write? Nancy sighs as she dispels the ‘what ifs’, dismissing them as reckless thoughts. She continues to find articles for her latest essay and continues reading.
Flash forward to ten years. Nancy has become one of the most successful writers worldwide. She’s living in New York, in one of those chic and modern apartments. She goes for yoga sessions in the morning, and spends her afternoons cafe hopping and churning out ideas for her book series.
Nancy takes a sip of wine as she looks outside her apartment, relishing the view of all the glory and lights that New York offers. Everyone was wrong. Don’t follow Everyone. Following Everyone was a mistake. Nancy thinks about the time when she was a struggling nineteen year old. Quitting law school was, perhaps, the best decision she ever made. She smiles. She didn’t do what Everyone else did. She took a path that was rarely ventured, and flourished. The phone rings. Nancy picks up the phone.
“Hello?” Nancy answers.
“Congratulations on your recent publication, Nancy! Its one of the bestsellers right now. Everyone’s been talking about it. This is so exciting!” It was Nancy’s publicist.
“Thanks Candice. I couldn't’ have done it without you. Let’s celebrate tomorrow night with the rest of the team!” Nancy buzzes with excitement.
Another bestseller. It could not have gotten any better. It was Nancy’s sixth book. She was so excited. She begins to plan for tomorrow’s celebrations. Nancy’s phone vibrates. An email. Could it be a new review of her book? Was it from the New York Times?
Pursuant to your recent application with Jackson & Waiver LLP, due to the high volume of applications we have received, we regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful. We wish you all the best with your future endeavours.
The Graduate Recruitment Team”
Another rejection email. Nancy’s heart drops. Reality hits Nancy in the face, as she gets rudely interrupted from her ‘what if’ thoughts. She twiddles her thumbs in the library. She doesn’t understand what she’s been doing wrong. She’s simply trying to excel at what Everyone else is doing. To be a top notch writer in New York? Yeah, right. Nancy sighs, again. She picks up her highlighter and tries to understand another boring article.
Remember. Keep doing what Everyone does, Nancy. Stop thinking about the path no one talks about. Everyone is right. Nancy keeps repeating her mantra to herself over, and over, and over again. The dreams of being a writer eventually turns into nothing more than a wallflower in Nancy’s mind.