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Colouring Outside the Lines

Op-ed by Natasha Anzik


I opened up my email the other day and to my horror found an email from the Harvard Alumni Association congratulating me on my 3 year “Gradu-versary” from the college. I could not believe it had been that long already. I texted a few of my college friends, including Haley, who had now been graduated for two years, and we expressed our equal shock and dismay at how quickly time has passed. The freshmen girls on the Harvard squash team that Haley and I had co-captained in the 2013-2014 season were graduating, and it got me to reflect on the changes in the past few years, and more notably, the things that hadn’t changed.

I am thankful for the friendships that have lasted, the people I can still call without hesitation. Many of my peers migrated to New York, pursued demanding careers, and we have since lost touch. A few of us stayed in school, myself included—it seemed like the safe choice. I envy my peers who stepped off the prescribed grad school/investment banking/high finance conveyer belt that Harvard encourages, (often to a few raised eyebrows), and did something a little different.

While I am the first to admit I do not have the squash skills or talent required to play professional squash, I wonder if things had been different whether I would have had the guts to put my passions and desires first and taken that path the way Haley has. While it really doesn’t necessarily seem like a big risk from an outsider who knows Haley is a Harvard grad, and has written the MCAT and intends to go to medical school, it is a frightening move to ignore the expectations others have for you and do something that you are passionate about. It’s the unspoken thing every over-achiever thinks about: Am I successful enough?, but maybe more appropriately: Does it look to the outside world like I am successful enough? I could not be more proud of my friend for doing something she loves in the face of this inner adversity. Sure she could have gone to medical school right out of college, and done the expected thing, but colouring inside the lines, and staying inside our comfort zones is not how we grow.

I met many amazing people during my time at Harvard, and they are doing very impressive things, but I am especially thankful for my friendship with Haley. It reminds me to take a step back and grab some perspective. Her actions and persistence encourage me to stay true to my genuine aspirations, absent the opinions of others, and I hope that I encourage her to do the same.

Natasha and Haley met in 2011 at Harvard University. They co-captained the varsity squash team in the 2013-2014 season, leading the team to an Ivy title. They have since remained close friends, looking to each other for support and advice on everything from tv show recommendations to career path decisions. Currently in law school and living in Toronto, Natasha is live streaming Haley's matches all over the world at all hours of the day - forever one of her biggest fans!

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