Two years ago, when I started defining a plan on how I wanted to proceed for candidacy, I spoke with my adoptive father about what it means to be an astronaut or why I wanted to do it. He hadn’t studied beyond the third grade, so I had to dumb it down for him. The best I could come up with was, “It’s like a pilot, you fly rockets in place of planes, and you do science experiments. You go to the moon and different planets like mars.” As innocent as he is, he asked me if other people like us live there and let him know whenever I go so that he packs a subway sandwich for the journey. He truly is one of the most innocent and pure people I know.
In my eyes, astronauts are extraordinary human beings. The best of all world, and they represent the best of humanity. They don’t do it for the money but care about selflessly giving their life for humanity. Every time they go up in space, they risk their lives, and although the accidents have certainly reduced in the last few years, there is always a chance for something to go wrong and make it their last trip. Every trip is a one-way ticket.
Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has tried to drive me away from the idea of becoming an astronaut. But how do I explain to someone that life should mean something every single day you wake up. Honestly, I get bored sometimes of solving technical problems at my workplace, so I go out and hunt more of them to keep my brain occupied. Working in tech does give me some safety net to save money and use it to study different courses I want to start taking up soon to prepare for candidacy. Tech helps me pay the bills and keep the lights on, so I will never say anything wrong about that field. I live for it.
I never intended to live a lavish life, have a home, car, or a “settled” or “safe” life. The rush of going all-in something has a different meaning for me. Saving and investing most of my money helps me chart out a plan for training and candidacy.
Do you want to know the worst part of my day? It’s not cooking every day or work or studying or researching. It is workout and endurance building. From barely able to run a mile to running a sub-7-minute mile, I’ve come a long way, but there is a lot of work yet to be done.
I have no regrets of not enjoying life as 90% of the people see fit; I never have. I always saw more to life than just drinking, Netflix, travel, food, late-night Fridays, and weekend outings. And no, it is not that “you won’t know what you are missing until you try it.” I have eaten some of the most expensive food, drank thousands of dollars of wine, hopped on a train, and gone wherever I wanted and concluded that I am not the person for it. I even bought $300 Eton shirts to see if I take a liking to premium clothing. Nothing. I have no interest in the High Life. Never had any. I wish I had ample money to study everything needed to prepare for candidacy and not worry about bills and fees, but what would be the point then? “It’s about the journey and also the destination.” At the same time, I am adamant not to break any rules or laws because the means should justify the cause and vice-versa, making the journey much harder than anticipated.
I feel happy that I have no social media. It has ruined the generation’s expectations of relationships, work, and everything it means to be human. Somehow “perfect” looks normal, and “good” is mundane.
This journey will cost me, not just in financial terms, but it’s easy to get jaded not knowing what the end outcome might look like especially knowing that some things will be left to chance. But I also know that it will test me mentally, emotionally, and psychologically in every possible way. It will either bring the worst or the best in me.
Success doesn’t come from what you occasionally do. It comes from what you do consistently. To truly be the best at something, you have to do what nobody else is willing to do. And that’s the secret.
Astronauts give their whole life to an idea, a far greater purpose, and their work takes tremendous amounts of risks and sacrifice. For them, it is never about prestige or glory but making the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good of all. The way I see it, I have no right to do any less than them. So yes, I am in this for a penny or a pound.