Disarming stereotypes


    Has it ever occurred to you that probably you are born in the wrong community? Like you are a Punjabi but should have been born in a Bengali family or a Bengali but your heart goes out to Tamils? India does have variegated and rich cultures but have we been able to accept and respect this beautiful diversity? In metropolis like Mumbai, the strength of those judgmental Indians could be less compared to the rest of India. I am basically addressing this article to the struggling, confused and desperate youth of our country who are torn between the choices they want to make for themselves and the choices their community makes for them through their parents and family.

    I am a Marwari and I am not studying commerce. I am not doing CA or MBA or CFA or CS or any of those money making degrees. When distant relatives come to my place they ask me what am I doing? Is it CA or MBA? Some go as far as assuming I must have cleared CPT or IPCC (1st two stages of the three of the Chartered Accountancy course) and they ask me when are my finals due? When I tell them I am not studying commerce their pitying glances initially used to make me furious but now I pity their narrow visions. I remember one incident when I told one of my cousins that I am studying arts, English literature to be precise, and she was appalled. Her spontaneous response was, and I quote her, “par tum to padhai mein achi thi?” which translates as “but you were good in studies?” It was a rhetorical question.

    What is your priority in life

    There are thousands of other students like me who want to break such stereotypes but do not have the courage to. If you are a Marwari and all your Marwari friends are studying commerce and your family wants you to follow their footsteps but you feel you are not meant for it then don’t go for it. If you are a Bengali and your family wants you to do engineering or study arts but you have the business streak in you then go for it! There are countless students who follow the herd under pressure from the family or otherwise.  But think about it, even you end up successfully completing the course which you were never meant for, what is going to happen?

    You will work 30 days a month. You will be ecstatic on one of those days when your handsome salary gets deposited in your account, but what about the 29 days? Will your grill yourself in and out, sweat and bleed for something that makes every single pore in your body unhappy? Have you come to this world to live an unhappy life trying your best to please others and dance at their approval of your choices in life? Countless incidents have been recorded where students go into depression because of the pressure or because of failure. How many people in our country can say that they love their jobs? Most don’t love the job, they just love the money that the job generates at the end of the month.

    Be a ruler and conquer your own world

    India is a country with the population of a billion. Imagine the amount of talent that this country is literally blessed with. Then why do so few people opt for music, photography, wildlife studies, astronomy, pet grooming, food criticism or any of those unconventional career lines? Some will blame the education system which focuses more on rote learning and teaches you how you can and should become a doctor or an engineer, some may put forward a rational argument stating what kind of careers will one have even if one decides to take their passions that seriously.

    Yes, I am not a counselor and I cannot answer for everyone. In many cases finance or something else does become a major issue but my experiences in life have taught me that there still are innumerable students who can excel in something they love to do but they are scared of the society. This article is for them. I read these lines somewhere and they are etched in my memory “You’ll waste a lot less time worrying about what others think of you if only you realized how seldom they do.”  

    Your passion may not be something grandiose. It could be as simple as being a pre-primary teacher because you love children or being a cook in a restaurant because you love to cook. You may not get some national award or a ‘Michelin star’ for doing what you are doing. But you just have one life to live. It is you who is going to decide whether you want to live for yourself or to appease those relatives and friends who have their own lives screwed up. They will never applaud your efforts no matter what you do. And even if they do, it shouldn’t matter. Happiness is a decision, a choice. It may not pop out of the blue but it will come tip-toeing in your life and settle under your roof!


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