A young man, 19, is in the driver’s seat, driving along a single-lane back road in a burgundy jeep with a black soft top. Lying sound asleep in the back seat of the car is the teenager’s high school teacher, and sitting upfront in the passenger seat is an older man, a friend of the teacher.
They’re on a road trip, heading to Princeton University, where the young man has been accepted but has had to be prevailed upon by his parents and teacher to go and have a look at the prestigious college.
The young man, who we shall call Anton, for Anton is his name, is bright, hence his acceptance to Princeton. But Anton doesn’t want to go to college. He wants to chart his own course, a route that doesn’t include going to college. But his parents are adamant that he must go to college.
Anton’s teacher, still asleep in the back seat, is less vehement about Anton going to college. Even so, he thinks it would be good for his student to at least look at the school before dismissing the idea of college offhand.
‘You ever feel like someone else’s feelings about something are so loud that you can’t even hear your own?’ says Anton to the older man in the passenger seat.
‘Yes I do,’ says the older man in the seat upfront.
This situation — other people’s feelings, thoughts about something being so loud you can’t hear your own feelings and thoughts about it — is common. It is so common, most times we’re not even aware that the voice in our heads is not our own but someone else’s; a parent, a spouse, a friend, family, society.
A good example of this, a story we’re told by a voice that is often not ours, is the story of what makes one happy. And it goes: go to school, get a job, get married, have children, and you will be happy.
It’s not a bad story, a tad fictional in my opinion, but whichever way you want to look at this story, the fact is it’s not everyone’s story. We’re not carbon copies of each other. Therefore, we can’t all want the same things and feel the same way about everything.
Some don’t want to get married or have kids, or have a job everyone thinks is a real job. This school-job-marry-kids narrative is not the story they want for their lives, but then in comes someone else’s din of views, opinions and thoughts so deafening, it drowns out the voice in your head.
It’s not easy marching to the beat of your own drum. The beat is barely audible in this hyper-connected world that just can’t stop talking. But, as difficult as it is to hear your drum, your inner voice in the noise you must endeavour to heed.
And don’t worry about your voice leading you astray. It can’t.
Clarity of mind, body and purpose are given to us at birth. All too often we allow these things to be taken from us — Anonymous.
You already know what you truly want to become. All you have to do is be still and listen to you.