The Advantages of Being Useless

One time when I was seven, my aunt took me to her favourite bookstore and offered to buy me a book from the children’s section.

I graciously said no because 1. I was never the reading type and 2. My parents were absolutely repulsed by the idea of accepting gifts from anyone when it wasn’t Christmas or my birthday. My aunt, however, still insisted I choose one and when I said no again, chose one for me. ???It was a beautiful book, it really was. The vibrant colours and pretty pictures on the cover alone were enough to make any seven year old want to read.

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I ran my hands over the title, amused by the sensation of feeling the ever so slightly raised words. It read ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ and had a picture of a tree with a little man who had a round face sitting under it. It seemed so magical and fascinating that all I would ever do was sit down on my favourite chair and flip through the pages, amazed by how Enid Blyton could ever have put together so many words to create such a work of art. ???The book enamored me so much that trips to the bookstore became more frequent and lectures regarding how many books a child should own were a weekly routine. ???Early in the year of my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to become a writer.

Whether it was to write for magazines or to have my own newspaper column, all while trying to write a bestseller, I knew I wanted to write for a living. I was in love with language, thrilled with the idea of connecting letters to create a beautiful flow of words and appalled by how only words could make anyone feel such emotion. And it was strange, because all my life I had wanted to be a doctor, not because I had ridiculously strict parents who wanted a smart child, but because I thought it seemed like something I would like to do. But it’s only when you start filling up college applications and you get an uneasy feeling when you write ‘medicine’ as your preferred study option that you realize what you’ve truly wanted all along. ???Your final year of high school is different from the rest. You think it’s going to be so much fun because you’re a finally a senior and you get to graduate and wear a really cool robe to go to a huge overpriced ceremony which probably has terrible food but it doesn’t matter because it’s supposed to be meaningful and worthwhile.

The thought of leaving the compound you’ve been spending five days a week in for your entire teenage life should sound tempting, but it just doesn’t for whatever reason. Being in your final year of high school would mean that grown ups are finally expecting a serious and carefully thought out answer when they ask you what you wanna be when you grow up. ???Every minute you spend browsing the Internet or reading a fictional book, you feel like you’re wasting your life. When you’ve just started going to school, it’s different because at that point it seems that your only purpose in life is to go to school so there’s not much to worry about. But once you’ve reached your senior year, you start to realize that you’re not thirteen anymore and you’ve got to start planning for that someday everyone tells you to plan for. So the question is, do you strategize a practical life with financial security and parental consent, or do you study what you want and hope for the best? The latter is always the more inviting and scarier option, but it will all be worth it when you come to realize that the world needs both neurophysicists and creative writers.

???Sure, doing a degree in something like English would draw in questions like “so what exactly are you gonna do with that degree?” and probably have you end up in a career that pays in popcorn, but how many people get to say that they’re truly happy with their jobs? And so what if I end up as that overly passionate teacher who has an obsession with literary works and preaches about how enjoyable writing essays is? And yes, answering the “what do you wanna be when you grow up?” question is going to be harder than it was. But what is the point of living life if you’re not going to try to make it at least a little bit remarkable? What am I gonna do with my life? I guess I’ll become a writer, and if not, I’ll see you at Pizza Hut.