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Making Our Own Choices

Mitali Dhar

Most students on this campus are 18 years old or older. Most of us live in Cambridge far away from campus. Most of us have left our family behind at home to venture out to Massachusetts for an education. But on the day we left our parents behind, we did more than just leave home. We took something important away from them as well: responsibility.

There was a transfer of responsibility that day. Maybe some of us were told about it and maybe some of us were not, but the day we left home and left our parents behind, we assumed responsibility for ourselves. No longer was someone else responsible for our actions or thoughts. No longer was there someone to ask for permission, no longer was there anyone to correct us for the mistakes we make. Our parents, while bidding us goodbye, gave up all right to be involved in our decisions. All they had left was the hope that they had brought us up well and that the guidance that they had given us over the past 18 or so years would help us make the right choices in the future.

I wonder how many of us realize the huge responsibility we carry with us once we reach college - responsibility not for anyone else, but for our own lives. Every decision we make and every step we take is our own. We have no one to tell us if we are right, and no one to reprimand us if it is wrong, only ourselves to blame if things go awry. I am sure quite a few of us do not realize this fact: I know it never struck me until a couple of weeks ago and I am sure that there are some of us who will maybe never realize it. But this term things have happened at MIT that has brought this fact to the forefront.

We are all adults on this campus - maybe not legally, but since we are given the power to control our own lives, we are certainly playing at being adults. The unquestionable authority to decide our lives for ourselves, command over every action and thought - that is what we were given. The decision to use it the right way or wrong way is entirely ours. And as long as we recognize this power we have, any decision we make will be right for us. No one else is going to judge us based on our actions if, ultimately, we alone can deal with them and justify them.

Your life lies in your hands. Realize that. Think about every decision you make. It will affect your life and yours alone. Do not do something to look cool and to be accepted into the crowd. Do it because you want to and you believe it has an importance or a significance in your life. That is all we need to survive here and in the world: the ability to recognize that every decision eventually will affect only our lives. Our parents brought us up trying to instill some values in us, trying to teach us right from wrong and eventually just trying to show us how to make our own decisions. Now it is up to us whether we reject or accept their ideals of right and wrong. At least let it be a coherent thinking process that leads to each conclusion or decision that we make. Parents will always be there to guide us, and peers will always be there to offer advice, but there will no longer be anyone to hold our hand along the path we choose to take. Just ourselves and our self-confidence to make the right decisions for ourselves. At the end of the day we will have ourselves to applaud for the right decisions and ourselves to blame for the wrong decisions. Let's recognize that fact and act on it.