As adulthood draws closer and closer, I’ve had to confront more and more questions about my future. What’s your major? Where do you see yourself in ten years? What do you want to do with your life? I don’t have the answers, so I’ve submitted to a bad habit of question hoarding. Every time I’m asked a question about my future that I can’t answer, I smile in sidestep and bury the question in my backpack when the other person isn’t looking.
I head straight for my room to unload the questions into my closet. I open my closet and try to shove my new questions into the last crevices—but this time, to no avail. Even after a fair amount of wrestling, the doors still wouldn’t clamp shut. “It’s impossible!” I cry, a complaint quickly overtaken by a loud BOOM. The closet doors split open—the hinges are broken straight through! Questions swell the room; one by one, the Why’s and the How’s and the When’s and the What’s tug at my toes, waist and arms until my body is completely enveloped. Words become chains against my body and question marks, shackles that drag me down. I’m drowning. My head falls underneath the sea of questions, and when I fight my way up for air, the room vanishes.
Instead, there is sea and air and sky. The sea lulls, and the questions release me from their iron grip. It’s a curious thing, floating in a sea of questions. Calming, really, once the questions stop nipping at your ankles. I’m drifting more comfortably now, but still lost in an endless sea. Where am I? A foghorn interrupts my thoughts; I turn to find a boat and a small man in the shape of a plum.
“Why hello there! You must be Ivy,” exclaims the plum-like man, reaching out his arm to hoist me onto the boat. He is an odd looking fellow, stout and smiley—barely making three feet, even on his tiptoes.
“Hello,” I greet him, “and who are you?”
“I am Choice. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Where would you like to go?”
I lift my eyes to the waters and see millions of doors floating on the far corners of the sea. Were they there before? Placards were emblazed on each door: writer, historian, ambassador, photographer, psychologist, pilot…
“What are they?”
“Your future,” says Choice, “Which door would you like to open first?”
“How do we even move to one? There’s no wind.”
“When there isn’t wind, we row. Talent! Hard Work!”
Two other plum-beings appear. With oars at the ready, they sit on opposite sides of the boat, waiting for the signal to start rowing. “It’s a team effort,” continued Choice, “Talent and Hard Work row, while I direct the sails. Together, we navigate through this sea of questions. By the looks of it, we’re good to go! If you don’t know where to go, try answering some questions. That will guide you to where you want to be.” Choice plucks a question straight from the sea and unfurls the words. “How do you feel?” he reads.
“Confused and explorative, in limbo. Curious. Young.”
A gust of wind comes and pushes the little boat forward; and with Talent and Hard Work at the oars, the boat begins to move. Choice proceeds to pull another question that had been swimming near the boat’s rim. “What do you want right now?”
I ponder this a bit and finally answer, “More time to learn.” Suddenly, a burst of wind guides the boat straight toward the door marked COLLEGE.
“Don’t forget to answer the most important question when you come back,” says Choice. And with one swift motion, he pushes me back into the sea. Turns out, Choice is stronger than I thought.
Two things changed when I fell into the sea for the second time. One, I was no longer afraid. Two, the currents no longer dragged me; I swam with the rhythm of the sea. I close my eyes for a heartbeat. When I open them, I’m back home. The closet is undamaged and my room is a bit brighter. I peer inside my closet only to find that one Why remained.
Luckily, I have four years to figure it out.