From the time we are born, we are bombarded with ‘sage’ advice. From our parents, from our teachers, from our friends, from our relatives, from society, from the media. Most of this plays into a very fixed notion of ‘life’, more specifically, of a successful life. The steps are easy. Study hard. Here are your subjects because it is ONLY these 4-5 subjects that will get you into a good college that will lead to a superbly paying job which will solicit a fitting life partner that will result in children – and the miserable cycle continues… on, and on, and on!

Do you know just HOW many people, ‘successful’ (read earning pots of money) I know, that are woefully unhappy? I can’t even begin to tell you, the count is so alarming. Why is that?

It is because of what I wrote in my opening paragraph. Did it mention even once that any of the stakeholders in a young person’s life (parents, society, media etc, who shouldn’t be stakeholders to begin with because an individual alone ought to be his or her own master) EVER ASK what the child LIKES, or is PASSIONATE about, or would like to EXPLORE? Nope. Nada. Nein.

It is a sociological tailspin that generations have been caught in. Because young independent India had little to offer except the few safe career options such as being a Doctor, Engineer or Civil Servant – the ripple effect decades on in a relatively transformed India, continues. Alas, the changes have come about in the country, not in the mindsets of its citizens.

Add to this the immense pressure and influence of particular communities. I belong to a Marwari family. Traditionally a business family. It embarrasses, shames many in my family that I am NOT in the business of business; the part of the family that assumes I am lazy, entitled, and whimsical. Its a crying shame. And though it has now, at nearly 40, stopped affecting me – how can years of preconceived notions of rights and wrongs not impact, influence, and brainwash, young children?

The race is on my dear rats. And ONLY a few are going to make it to the top. But I tell you what. Chances are when you get to the top, you’ll realize that the view isn’t great, that you are alone, burnt out, and that the way up, when you suddenly came upon that unexpected waterfall, or when you discovered that peculiar bird, and maybe got a glimpse of who you really are, was infinitely more satisfying than the summit itself!

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