Edit desk: To be, or not to be


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Get thee to a nunnery. 

I never particularly enjoyed reading Shakespeare. Maybe it was a lack of discipline and patience to cut through the jargon, or maybe I’m just uncultured and can’t appreciate fine writing when I see it. 

Regardless, no scholar of the late English playwright can deny the prolific impact he has had on theater and the English language. 

Above are a few of the quotes I’ve managed to remember from my short-lived time as a student of Shakespeare. One line in particular, however, has had a profound impact on me:

To be, or not to be. 

I’ve suffered from indecision for as long as I can remember. What should be a simple decision to most, for me requires weighing pros and cons at length, discussing my options with a few choice confidants, sleeping on it to see how I feel the next day, and only then making a move. And still, I always have my doubts.

I used to take pride in my non-committal nature. I wrote my CommonApp essay on the premise that my open mindedness had given me a breadth of experiences. And it’s true. 

I’ve tried my hand at 10 different sports, five musical instruments, I’ve lived and traveled globally, eaten any and every type of food offered to me, watched more movies and TV shows than would be deemed healthy by the U.S. surgeon general and had the pleasure of befriending people from all walks of lif

Mannan Mehta


Yet the reality is, this type of lifestyle is not sustainable. I can’t continue to be a “yes man” forever. 

For me, college has delayed the inevitable. Upon graduating, I will no longer have the advantages a liberal arts education has provided—allowing me to dabble in an array of subjects across the fields of economics, international relations, computer science, math, philosophy, political science, environmental science, accounting and journalism.

Decision making is binary. One or zero. On or off. Yes or no. To be, or not to be. 

We can agonize about nuances, we can rationalize, try to pick and choose a little bit of everything—the greatest hits, if you will. But at its core, it boils down to taking it or leaving it.

I will have to find something I find at least somewhat fulfilling—enough to get me up in the morning—and specialize in it to develop a skill set that makes me a productive and valuable member of a group. Something that makes me worth paying and having on a team. I need to be someone who can provide expertise in one area, rather than surface level knowledge across many.

I fear making the wrong choice, not because I fear what that choice has to offer, but rather because I fear missing out on the options I did not pick. I fear they will haunt me in my sleep, taunting me for not having chosen them.

That nightmare is almost as scary as the one where I show up to school naked. Quite unnerving if you ask me. 

As I wrote this, I wondered whether a solution would pop into my head that would allow me to smoothly wrap this piece up with a nice fluffy bow on top. 

But one did not, and it will not. 

Fear of commitment is something I will always deal with to some degree. I have accepted that I can’t be a Jack-of-all-trades (or a Mannan-of-all-trades). 

I do take some peace in knowing most decisions are not binding in the long term. I will make an effort to ensure my occupation is not so all-consuming that it becomes my identity. I am fortunate to have the gift of time on my side right now, and I understand it will take time for me to develop into who I want to be.

I am not there yet.

To be, or not to be will always be the question.

I’ve come to terms with that. But if you don’t mind, I’ll be taking as much time as possible to answer it. 

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