October 28, 2014

BYRNE | True Detective

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When I was eight years old, I found my true calling.

I began reading a series called Nancy Drew Notebooks when I was in elementary school, because the real Nancy Drew books were too grown-up for me. I was also obsessed with Mary Kate and Ashley in a perhaps lesser-known stage of their fame, post-Full House but pre-successful fashion careers. Even lesser-known than those weird teen travel movies. For those of you who don’t remember, they were a mystery-solving duo, with the motto, “We’ll solve any crime by dinnertime.” If you visit my parents’ house, in the garage you could probably still find a stack of about 10 VHS tapes of their various crime-solving antics. I watched them religiously, mostly when my mom was in the shower, because I wasn’t really allowed to watch TV at other times during the day. And the conclusion I came to was that I was destined to solve crimes, to rid the world of dangerous people, like that guy who stole Santa’s naughty and nice list and switched them in the Christmas episode.

My friend Elly and I, who called each other Mary-Kate and Ashley, respectively, were walking in the woods near our house with our parents and we wandered a bit off the path, looking for bugs, as we were wont to do. Suddenly, we saw something in the dirt, something that we didn’t recognize because it was both extremely rare in the early 2000s and inappropriate for an eight year old to own: a cell phone.

There it was, just sitting in the leaves. This was the moment we had been waiting for, a chance to show off our detective skills, which had been lying dormant up to this point. We quickly went to work, looking through the phone to find any relevant information on its owner. There really wasn’t much, considering this was before the age of iPhones and all of our personal information being carried in our pockets. However, with the help of our moms’ brilliant minds, we discovered a contact labeled Mom. We called this number, she got in contact with her son, and he came all the way from his home in New York City to pick up his phone.

Upon arrival, the man (or, as I would like to call him, our first client) expressed his deep gratitude, and asked us what we would like as a reward for finding him and returning the phone. Now, remember, I was eight. Also remember that my biggest and only ambition in life at that time was to literally become Ashley Olsen. So, we requested, as any budding detectives would, deerstalker hats. The Case of the Missing Cell Phone was solved, and I was one sartorial item closer to becoming the female Sherlock Holmes.

Unfortunately or fortunately — depending on if you are my younger self or my mother — I long ago gave up on my mystery-solving aspirations. For a while after that, I thought I wanted to be a teacher, then that I wanted to be a doctor. I still think I want to be a doctor, but I really and truly don’t know. Why is it that the closer we get to making this seemingly life-altering decision, the less sure we are about it? I think it’s the pressure to choose. To all my fellow seniors, if I hold any power at all over your thought, even in this one moment as you read this sentence, here’s a thought: You don’t have to decide the rest of your life on May 25. It’s crazy, I know, but it just might be true. All we have to decide is our first job, our first attempt at finding what we want to do. This might be what we end up loving and doing for the next 40 years, and if so, congratulations. But there will always be an opportunity to go back, to try something else, to abandon ship.

I’ve been pre-med, or pre-pre-med, for practically eight years. It’s scary to think, what if I don’t go to medical school? But guess what — it’s equally scary to become a doctor just because you decided to at the end of middle school. So, to all of my friends and family who think I won’t go to medical school: You may be right. You may also be wrong. I could change my mind at any moment, because I am human and I am 21 and I can choose whatever I want to do.

And if all else fails, I still have the hat.

Sarah Byrne is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She be reached at [email protected]. Let It Byrne appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.