The Illusion of Control

Have you ever seen that exhilarating moment where you realise you can do anything? Maybe not anything per se, but when you realise that all the chains binding you are nothing more than a social construct, nothing more than ideas deeply rooted in culture and the conformity it brings. You can do anything and everything.

You are free.

You recognise this as a dangerous thought though, thoughts that when left unchecked show you exactly what psychopaths are made of. An infinite number of pathways lie spread out before you, thousands of doors you never dared open now beckoning like a siren’s call. You begin then with something a little tamer, something like the seemingly possible thought of studying exactly what you want, what you’ve always dreamed of doing. You’re filled with what seems like impossible vigour and energy, a crazy passion you never thought you had. You decide though that it’s a little too big of a commitment and you put it on hold for now. You move on to the next door, drawn to the bright lights like a moth to a flame. Here, you are filled with a sense of righteousness and you swear that you will no longer allow yourself to be used. You will never again allow your friends to use your notes as a substitute for that lecture they keep missing. You deliberate a little and decide then that you’ll give them another chance, because isn’t that what friends are for?

Your thoughts quickly begin to take on a darker hue. Emboldened, you charge forward. You leap into the abyss which is temptation. You watch in gleeful horror as your thoughts begin a downward spiral. You could trigger that 3 a.m. smoke alarm; send everybody running with the threat of a fiery end chasing them down. You could tell a lie, concoct a crazy background, watch it spread, and then watch your reputation get ripped to shreds after the gossiping masses finally discover the truth. You could remove the filter between your brain and your mouth; say exactly what you wanted, whenever you wanted to.

This is the point where a faint voice intrudes upon your thoughts, a nagging voice at the back of your mind, begging you to be rational, pleading at you to stop this foolishness. What point is there in doing such irrational things, it reasons. Why would you even think it? Your reply comes glorious and resounding.

Why not?

You are excited. You are terrified. You feel your heart race, your breathing quicken. You could rip off that mask, your public persona, bare your naked self for the world to see. You could walk out onto the busy main street the lights still red and let fate decide the next few seconds. You could do anything you wanted with your mind your tongue your fists your feet that knife in your hand you have absolute power over yourself you have total con-


The metal bars crash down, and the doors slam shut. You are a little stunned at the direction your thoughts had taken. You berate yourself for thinking such repulsive thoughts, such crazy, untrue thoughts. You pause a little to reflect on the absurdity of ever toying with such ideas, whether seriously or not, before you move on with life, dismissing the whole incident as an abnormality, a blip in your current ordered and relatively smooth-sailing life.

Thank god you are in control.

Header and thumbnail image by Vanessa Teo.

About the Author

Ryan wishes speech allowed for as much time to think and edit as writing offered. Maybe everyone would stop running away then. He studies business.