Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The right door

4 years ago, I had rejected University of Michigan, Ann Arbor to join UW, Seattle. I don’t really know why I chose Seattle over Ann Arbor, given that I knew nothing about either. Both schools were equally good in my field, and I didn’t really have anything against UMich. I was confused for a while, so I asked a few people. Most said Ann Arbor snows like crazy [I am not much of a winter person], though Seattle rains no less. I think I was more familiar with the name Seattle [thanks to Sleepless in Seattle]. Someone suggested there would be a strong Indian crowd in Seattle, thanks to Microsoft and Amazon. Then it was a big city [unlike Ann Arbor], etc etc. The decision was made for me. I was going to Seattle. It’s like- I had two doors in front of me, one with UW written on it, and one with UMich written on it. I had opened the door to UW.

Good and bad, my life in Seattle has been eventful ever since. I finished school, decided to say “no thanks” to PhD in a year, got myself a job, and started working. I hiked, I learnt to drive, I joined salsa classes, I acted and performed in plays, I joined the local dance group, and much more. However, I don’t know how life would have been had I chosen the door with UMich written on it. Maybe I would have finished my PhD. Maybe I would have learnt to like the snow and started skiing. Maybe I would be married by now. Who knows? My friend tells me the tango dancers network at UMich is amazing. Another friend from the business school speaks highly of the place. These are friends who went to UMich. But I’ll never know what was in store for me if I went to UMich, will I?

Today, I stand at a similar crossroad in life, only more difficult. I have 6 PhD admits with scholarships. Worse, 4 of them are similar ranking schools. I don’t really have a choice of city versus college town, as all of them are college towns. All of them are offering me similar packages. The time required to graduate is more or less the same. It’s like facing the same situation 4 years later, this time, only worse. 4 doors with different names in front of me. Which door do I choose? Of course no matter whatever door I choose, I’ll have an eventful journey ahead of me. But will I ever know what I missed out on? What if after choosing “A”, things don’t work out? I’ll always wonder what “B”, “C”, or “D” had in store for me. I was hoping my gut feeling would come handy and help me make a choice. But my gut feeling isn’t communicating with me. Mother suggested writing down all the names in little pieces of paper and asking baby Kalyani to randomly choose one. On a side note, my bollywood-influenced mother further listened to my plight and told me with all seriousness and sympathy, “I can understand, it’s like having to choose between Ranbir Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor for a husband. Both of them are so good”. I had cracked up on the phone 3 months ago when she told me this.

Anyway, I have kind of made a choice, but I had no reason to disapprove of my other choices. The super good schools that were my first choices all rejected me, and now I am left with decently good schools, and I just don’t know what to choose and what to leave behind. And I know that no matter what door I choose, I will always wonder what the doors I left behind had in store for me. Like my architect friend SD says, embarrassment of the riches. Sometimes faced with choices, you know this is THE one and you will not go for anything else. And sometimes faced with choices, you just don’t know what to choose to make you feel that was the right choice.



alpine path said...

Your dilemma is so real! I face so many instances where both choices are really good that it has to be a no-brainer to choose when presented with one, but it is two that makes it hard. I only wish I don't have to choose between two really good guys for a husband... I'd be left wondering all through life with a big "what if". Guess that's one of the bothers with arranged marriages. And auntyji's explanation is "oh-so-right" :D

wishes galore said...

dear sunshine,
this same happens with me too..
but then I feel blessed, coz, I have a choice in my hands...
dont know if it is better than to have no choice at all..

~anu~ said...

Robert Frost was there too.. not in UW or UMich, but on a fork. I guess you can just feel good about yourself on not making a bad choice at least.
Nice post!

Anonymous said...

Good luck !

dipthought said...

There is right or wrong here. It is like Schrodinger's cat, only when you choose, you make that "right".

Rakhi said...

He he! You can imagine how much this post resonates with my own state right now. Hope we always make the best of whatever choices we make, and never regret one moment of our new journeys.

sunshine said...

alpine path - LOL !! I did think of what you wrote -- what if I cannot choose between who to marry !!

wishes galore- It's better to have a choice than not have one !!! So true !!

anu- :)

anonymous- :)

dipthought- totally agree with you :)

Rakhi- Your earlier email actually gave me the idea about this post :)