They tie me to a chair, wind my legs in thick laces of rope, gag my mouth, and blindfold my eyes. I can’t see anything; I can’t hear anyone; I can’t move. I fidget with the pencil in my hand, and I know I am supposed to write. My head pounds and my heart thumps feverishly. Perspiration builds at my temples and my teeth grind, crying for the relief that only contact with fingernails can bring. They are asking me to tell them who I am and what I have achieved in my measly 17 years on this planet.
I am no musical prodigy, no Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Ludwig van Beethoven. I am no master Iron Chef; instead, to scramble eggs without burning them is an accomplishment for me. I am no great explorer like Christopher Columbus. The greatest voyage I’ve ever embarked on was in my own backyard, and the greatest discovery I ever made was of a quarter wedged between the sofa cushions.
I am not Bill Gates, nor am I Mark Zuckerberg. I can, however, access Facebook using Windows on a PC. I did not write papers on quantum theory like Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg, but I do have a theory on the quantity of jellybeans in the jar in the contest at school. I can’t dance like Shakira, smile like Mona Lisa, lead like Obama, or sing like Santana. The only time I sing is when I have a problem, and only then because I find solace in knowing at least something sounds worse than that problem.
I have never met anyone famous; the closest I have come to it was the letter I wrote to President Obama this summer, and he didn’t even write back. My impression of an Indian accent is impressive, but I am no great peace-preaching Gandhi.
I am none of these things – yet. Four years from now, tie me to a chair, lace my legs in rope, gag my mouth, blindfold my eyes, give me a pencil and ask me the same question again.