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The Alternative Pathway of a Physicist

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Sometimes Sheldon wonders how his life would be any different if his family situation was a tad better, if his dad had a better paying-job that was enough to cover a family of five, or if he decided to be more selfish by choosing his dream first instead of trying to make his mother happy. Sometimes Sheldon wonders whether his life would be any different if he was more stubborn, whether he would be happier and lived a fulfilling life by becoming a theoretical physicist like he was always planning to do instead of what he became now, a product of a capitalist world. The thing about regret is, it always comes in the end and never at the beginning. Well, some things were just not meant to be, he mused.

He, after all, never believes in a silly notion of fate. He believes in a calculated possibility and a definite outcome instead of basing his life in something that cannot be predicted, something uncertain. Becoming a theoretical physicist and winning a Nobel seems like a far-fetched idea at that time in which his young mind thought was comparable to winning a lottery. He’s a genius and he knows it but having a very humble background also knocked some sense into his young naive life where a dream sometimes is just a dream that is best to be left like that instead of living in a delusion. He would still be Sheldon Cooper even when he’s a CEO of his own tech company or a theoretical physicist.

He can point out the exact date and year where his outlook on life changed drastically.

It was late January 1987. His twin sister and himself were going to start elementary school while George Jr, his elder brother, was still in Junior High and was threatened to stay for another year due to several failed classes. The demand for a great academic life for the Cooper children had put a strain on his family’s financial situation.

At that time, Sheldon was barely seven years old when he realized three important components in his life that would forever shape his future.

First, he’s not crazy, his mom got him tested. Thank you very much and suck eggs for the rest of the Texan community for making him believe such a ridiculous idea. Second, he’s different from the rest of his peers. He’s not a freak nor he is an oddity. He’s a genius with a mind so far advanced than the rest of all his elementary school teachers combined. And third, coming from a single-income family where the main provider is only a high school coach, could create a variety of interconnected issues for his family’s financial situation and would eventually grow into another set of complications considering his growing educational needs.

He watched how his dad struggled to make ends meet and how his mother tried to stay positive through it all. It did not work and with this, he watched how empty bottles of beer started to change into empty bottles of cheap whiskey. He watched and watched as his dad spiraled out into depression while his mother became a shell of her former optimistic self. Thanks to Meemaw, some things were manageable, at least for him.

As the time goes, things become more difficult for his family, especially after his Meemaw was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that even though was curable, the treatments needed were just so extensive and beyond their financial capability despite the insurance money they had and as a result, some things were prioritized and some things needed to be sacrificed.

It was three years later, just after Sheldon graduated from high school at the tender age of eleven that he realized another thing that would set him off to this current path.

He realized that money is the answer to all of his family problems. From simple things like fixing his family’s refrigerator, a much-wanted lecture in another state, or simply having a complete meal for a family of five plus Meemaw at their dinner table every day. Every damn problem in his life could be solved with more money, money that he could earn if he has a better job than his pathetic father.

Unsolvable problems, of course, will lead to even more problems. As his dad’s track to alcoholism was a certain journey and Meemaw’s medical bills started to pile up, Sheldon was becoming more obsessed with the idea of money. If only his dad had a better paying-job then maybe he would not feel so inadequate about himself and turned into an alcoholic and later a cheater. If they had more money, his Meemaw could be taken care of and would not end up in her deathbed four years after they buried their Popop.

Life would be much better and much happier if his family just had more money and sometimes the price for earning more money means sacrificing one’s dream.

He used to dream of becoming a theoretical physicist when he was in high school and got invited to attend one of the lectures at Rice University. The thought of working on formulas and equations for days to no end, discovering the universe, and how it works, simply thrilled him but no one can be handed out their dream just like that, not even a genius from Galveston.

He was offered a bunch of scholarships after he graduated on any majors he decided to focus on and after hours spent on research, despite the fact that Physics still had promising job opportunities, it would not be enough and in the end, Computer Engineering became the field he decided to take. It’s a promising and lucrative subject despite studying it felt like a chore to his teenage mind but then again, his goal in life had changed. This is also why he decided to take Business as his minor as it would do him no good if he understands the science but does not understand how to market its values. An unusual combination but then again he knows how much he’s worth to all these universities so a full-ride scholarship for his choice was simply an obstacle that he could manage.

With the way Georgie and Missy were doing with their lives, he knew that it would be up to him to make sure his mom would not end up the same way like his Meemaw did or spiraled out of depression like his dad did.

A few years later, his dad died. He was 14 years old but it came to no surprise much as it was a relief to him. His dad brought nothing but misery to his family with his drinking habit and his preference for cheap lipstick and bleach hair of a waitress.

He was already on his way of earning a master’s degree and a promising track for his first doctorate. With George Jr.'s part-time job, his mother’s involvement at their local church, and his generous scholarship, the blow for his dad’s passing could be managed.

When his mother started to have the same symptoms as Meemaw did before she was diagnosed with cancer, he was terrified. Despite doing pretty well on the financial side, his family could not take another blow with his mother’s upcoming illness. The money was already tight enough and if his mother did have the same type of cancer as his Meemaw, Sheldon could already imagine how her remaining years would turn out. Full of resignation and acceptance of not getting the right medical treatment just because they don’t have enough. This, Sheldon decided, was something he could not recover from.

Thanks to his knowledge in business and his immaculate mathematical ability to count probability, his decision to invest in stocks was a spot on and set the foundation for his future career. He knows which company has the best chance to earn him more dividends and has the best chance to be successful, how much should he spend on investing and how much money should he invest back. He was a pro and from there, his family’s life was marginally better.

The priority was to give her mother the best medicine to ensure she did not end up like his Meemaw. Then to their living costs and George Jr’s tuition fee, considering how gifted he was in marketing, Sheldon had succeeded in persuading his brother to go to college and put his natural talent to use. He became the sole earner in the family for a few years after that and the dream to become a theoretical physicist went to the back of his mind, deeply buried with his other childish dreams.

He started to become more involved in the stock market when old research from his time as a Ph.D. candidate caught the attention of the air force. He was immediately recruited by the Pentagon.

His life then only revolved around three things, investment, air force project, and his family. He excelled at everything he does but never proud of it especially when he realized his creation was used to destroy thousands of lives in faraway countries. Maybe this is what Einstein felt when the world used his brilliance to create one of the most destructive weapons in history.

With his mother’s illness, however, this project was a godsend. That’s why he didn’t refuse when the Pentagon decided to hire him again and again and again to create the world’s finest weapons. He felt like his life was just a means to an end, his mind was nothing but a curse to the humankind, that’s it until he met Leonard.

They were both recruited in the same project and hit it off immediately. Leonard has this amazing idea of developing some sort of cybersecurity specialized for newly digitized companies and banks. It was very commercial and if succeeded could revolutionize its field. As Sheldon was sick of creating a weapon that is used to destroy humans’ life every single day, he decided to seriously pursue this idea with his new friend.

That was the start of his now multi-billion company of Coopstadter Corp in which as the time goes, does not only focus on developing cybersecurity but also creating a whole range of cutting-edge technologies that are beyond their competitors. The company even went as far as creating a specialized area for space exploration technology and has been NASA’s most valuable partner for the past half-decade when a renowned astrophysicist with the name of Rajesh Koothrapalli and former NASA astronaut with the name of Howard Wolowitz formally joined their company as heads of R&D.

Now Sheldon could finally pat himself in the back and said a job well-done. He was so proud of himself even though it cost him his dream job of becoming a theoretical physicist and winning a Nobel but when he saw how happy his mom was when he gave her a simple religious trip, it did not matter anymore. Now he could pay for everything she wants in life. Traveling the world? He could just tell his mom to use his private jet. His wealth is immense and he’s proud that he built this company from the ground.

He had everything he ever wanted. Friends of high caliber, a successful career, and basically what can be considered by many, a fulfilling life, but when one by one his friends started to get involved with their new significant other, Leonard with Penny who was a quite well-known actress, Howard with Bernadette who worked in one of his partner company in Pharmaceutical, and Rajesh with a dermatologist with the name of Emily, Sheldon realized it was just a matter of time before they leave him and he will be alone again like he always is.

It was to be expected really, after all, he and his friends are approaching their 40s, and having a steady home life has always been a dream for his friends but no matter how hard he tried to rationalize himself, he has yet to accept this new development. That’s why he started to distance himself from them and took many side projects to distract himself, including involving himself again with the Pentagon.

Two years later and deep in his project in the air force and being a CEO, an invitation to be a guest lecture came from Caltech. The position only lasts for the whole summer and after confirming with the air force that he will check up with them weekly, he decided to accept the invitation. Leaving a carefully worded note to Leonard and his assistant, Alex, Sheldon decided to leave as early as he could. He’s running away, he knows, but he just couldn’t take the changes anymore, not when it means, losing his friends to their new life where he’s no longer be a part of it.