Monday, 23 July 2012

I Have Lived...

I was chatting with one of my colleagues, today, during lunch. Her brother will be appearing for his tenth standard board examination in the following year. "He is very confused about what stream to select. Since you are a counsellor, can you help him in selecting his career-path? He is a very intelligent boy and always fares well in his school examinations...Even I don't know whether he should pick Science or Commerce," my colleague stated.
"What about Humanities? Is he not at all interested in Arts?" I asked.
"I just told you he is a bright boy! Why would he need to study Arts?" my colleague cried in protest!
I could not help but smile at her exclamation.

In India, the moment an individual passes the tenth standard examination, he or she is expected to make the first significant decision of his or her life - which stream to choose? Arts, Commerce, or Science? Usually, students who excel in academics are expected to pursue a career in Science and become an engineer or doctor. The average students are encouraged to take up Commerce and pursue careers like Company Secretaryship or Chartered Accountancy. The remaining students who are labelled as 'weak in studies' or 'low achievers' have to take up Arts. And, no matter which stream you have selected, these days, it has become a fad to ultimately land up doing an M.B.A. degree; otherwise, you are believed to be nothing!

I startled my entire family by selecting Humanities as my future stream despite scoring well in my board examinations! It has been more than 7 years since I made that choice; and, today, if someone were to ask me whether I regret that decision, my answer would be 'no'.

I may not be earning as well as some of my peers but I do not regret choosing the path that I selected to walk upon. I see people around me who are dissatisfied and unhappy. They constantly seem to be running behind something - the tragic part is that they do not even know what it is that they are chasing!

I have always been living my life. Most people seem to be living the lives of others. They never knew who they were back then; and, even now, they have never managed to find out what they are. While I was living a 'fairy tale', people were absorbing the darker, grimmer realities - today, my life is filled with bright colours. The others are still seeing things in black or white...

People may call me a slut because of all the wonderful, pleasurable experiences that I have had. But I prefer travelling the forbidden path and relishing the fruits of my labour instead of dying with a mind exploding with virgin thoughts. There have been mistakes that I made but I have had the courage to move past those errors. It has not been an easy ride, I admit. There are times when I have not known where I was going and when I had no idea what was heading my way. But, in order to find ways that no one has discovered before, one does need to get lost! I may not have lived the 'ideal life' as some of my peers but I know that I am living my life in the best possible way that I can while others are busy following in the footsteps of others...

34 comments:

  1. True, what you say, in order to find yourself, you need to be lost. I am on the path to switching careers, and I still don't know where my life is headed. Funnily enough, the switch makes me feel more sane. It has made me more vulnerable yes, but so much stronger in other ways. I finally feel like I am thinking for myself, instead of what others think or feel or what I should be doing.

    I have too many people telling me that I am wasting my time instead of doing an MBA. That kind of herd mentality really pisses me off, more so because even with the switch, I am told that I can pursue whatever I want once I have an MBA. I see it as a pointless exercise. With due respect to MBAs who rake their lakhs, why is it that every person out there wants an MBA? Surely there are people who aren't MBAs who also earn good money? In any case, isn't it the whole herd mentality at play again?

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    1. Trust me - it's more fun when you haven't got it all figured out...People who know exactly where their life is headed are boring - it's like they already know the ending of the movie even before they have started watching it!

      We can't do much about the herd mentality but then, every herd has a black sheep - and hopefully, each day, the numbers of these black sheep will rise :)

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  2. This is something that even I come across. humanities will take its time to be equally popular. I believe that it is through us that this change will take place :)

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    1. :) :) I shall drink to that :) :)

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  3. Oh yes .. We as a country are complete losers in this arena .. We are trained not to follow our heart .. Children are moulded like metals are in factories ..
    As long as you know what you are doing, nothing can be classified as right or wrong .. Nobody can say what is right for another person .. Each individual can live on their own terms as long as they have the mind to accept and embrace it wholeheartedly without qualms .. Any path that we choose should be our choice based on what we think is right and what we want to live by .. It should be a well thought out decision with full heart into it ..
    But the problem is few have the maturity for that .. Majority of this world lives looking at the others around them .. Their happiness is always in comparison with the next person and hence never complete .. Sad state indeed ..

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    1. A very sad state indeed...I think we should have more flexibility in opting for the subjects we wish to choose - we should not be restricted to one stream...It is not practical to expect a tenth standard child to know for sure what he or she wants to do his or her entire life :) I wish we had an education system the way it was abroad - where you can choose subjects from any stream and not make the choice seem like watertight compartments!

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  4. Very well written. Finally, someone thinks like me. Liberal Arts majors are considered “leaders”. Here in USA, gone are the days when they made someone CEO of a company who is a technical or a financial person. The trend the past 10 years is to appoint liberal arts majors as CEOs. They may not be specialist in one but they have adequate knowledge in many subjects.

    CEO of a telephone company need not know how to install a phone line or how to make accounting entries. He should know how to lead the employees, how to interact with the customers and shareholders.

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    1. Ha!Ha! Glad to come across another like-minded person :) :) It's good to see the trends changing in the USA...Hopefully, the winds of change will blow in India's direction as well :)

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  5. well written as usual Divya:)

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  6. Lovely post...compelling me to do some self introspection. I agree to your one line the most-

    I have lived my life, others have been living the life people wanted for them.

    So true... I guess there has been a phase in my life where I was in the latter category... and after sometime in the former category. Just like you said, No regrets about anything whatsoever!

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    1. Hi Me :) :)

      Nothing like a post that compels you to do some thinking :) :)
      Glad you are now trying to live your life on your own terms :)

      Best Wishes!!

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  7. I agree! Nobody focuses on equipping the student with enough skills to enable them to understand what they would like to do in life. Good=science, average=commerce and below-average=arts is sadly how the mind-set and education system has worked so far.
    It takes a spirited mind and a sensible head to take a less-charted path and be happy with it.
    Kudos to you for having the guts and confidence to pursue yours!

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    1. Thank You :) :) :) It is sad that people are categorized in that manner - hopefully, change will happen soon :)

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  8. Your story reminds me of another story that didn't quite have an happy ending like yours.

    A Little girl... quite good at studies, wanted to take up 'Geography'. This subject is classified as Arts... so she was warned against choosing this subject. She didn't quite have the guts to stand up against the factory built around her. So she studied science instead. There she wanted to take bio... but not with the untention of becoming a doctor. Se wanted to to learn how life works... how things evolve... she was fascinated by life.

    But again she was barred from taking bio. "If you don't want to be a doctor, you better not waste time with bio. Take computers instead. It'll help with your engineering. "

    She hated computers. It was totally lacklustre for her. She had the IQ needed fpr it... maybe. But definitely not the EQ.

    Needless to say... out of sheer frustration... the very bright student... started flunking her exams.. and majorly.

    Then she found a way out. A ray of hope. She studied Statistics. For some reason it fascinated her. But Alas!! Statistics is not electronics or Mathematics... is it. She was told she was wasting time.

    she got tired of fighting the system... and her own family at every step of the way.

    She quit studying.

    End of story.

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    1. That is a sad state of affairs but unfortunately, this does end up happening - I know of a girl who purposely flunked her std. XI exams by submitting blank papers to convince her parents that she was not made for Science and, then, was allowed to take up a stream of her choice. Unfortunately, she ended up losing a year. I wish people would allow children to take up whatever stream in which their heart lies even if they are made for taking up 'better careers'

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  9. We all make mistakes in life....the important thing is to learn our lessons. Go ahead and live your life. No has the right to judge you.

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  10. I hate such stereotypes - that only average students are supposed to take Arts or Commerce, while intellectuals go into Science. One should pursue the career that they really want to, I believe.

    I was a bright student throughout my school and college life. After Std. X most people thought I would get into Science, but I shocked everyone by getting into Commerce. I was sure I did not want to do Science. Later, though, I took up a career in Arts. I now work as a Content Writer and Editor - solely on the basis of the knowledge and experience I have gathered myself in the course of life. In hindsight, I wish I had chosen Arts after Std. X but I did not have so much foresight then. I have been working in this field for 7 years now, and yes, it has not been an easy ride, but I have lived (like you say) and enjoyed every moment of it. I don't regret the decision that I took back then.

    I wish there were more counselling centres in India to guide students to take the path they were meant to take, depending on their skills and interests, not on what their parents want them to do in life.

    I can totally relate to the last part of your post. Many people look at me weirdly when I tell them I am busy fulfilling my dreams - going to Kashmir, reading, exploring my city, visiting a vineyard, etc. Their looks tell me - 'Go, get a life!' What is this, if not life? - I ask. Why is life always supposed to be serious? Why can't a person fulfill his/her dreams actively without being labelled a spendthrift or a slut?

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    1. We all hate stereotypes but there isn't much we can do about it - whether we like it or not: stereotypes exist! I think the smart thing to do would be to evaluate what are the stereotypical notions that we harbour and try getting rid of them...

      I do aspire to be a content writer and a editor but I have so many varied interests - I think I shall explore each job avenue one at a time :) :)

      Counselling centres to guide students won't work unless parents are involved in the process and made to understand that each stream is equally lucrative and important - no field is better than the other...

      I am glad you are truly living your life the way you want to :) :) Hope you continue doing so!

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  11. Very nice post as usual!!

    Your outlook upon life, your estimate of yourself, your estimate of your value are largely colored by your environment. Your whole career will be modified, shaped, molded by your surroundings, by the character of the people with whom you come in contact every day...

    "The journey of a thousand miles begins with small steps." :D My favorite subject is history.People usually asks "Why invest time and money in the study of the arts at universities?"People who are interested in reading, understanding, interpreting and debating the best that has been said, written and thought about throughout human endeavour.

    Its even not correct to say that Arts is for the under scorers who do not have any more options in life to make their career settled one. Studying facts of the past helps to understand literature of the past. Art reflects the cultures of the past, and shows how we achieved what we have today.

    Even in my family members and relatives think that studying Arts is a waste of time. When a child come in the high classes(7 or 8), he is asked to give more pressure on maths and science instead of social studies. I have also been told the same thing.\

    but, I think it entirely depends on the person in what he/she is interested in??

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    1. Just remember: All people who clear Civil Services and become IAS/IPS Officers are from the Arts stream - so it would be wrong to call them unintelligent :) :) Always choose the stream that interests you - it is alright to take up a subject of your choice but at the same time, you shouldn't stop focusing on a subject completely on grounds that you find it boring :P You are just in 7th standard - give each subject a chance before picking out what is meant for you!

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  12. Such a pertinent, wonderful post Divya... I really wish I had opted for humanities and studied psychology instead... Its really unfortunate that people consider Arts students 'lacking'... that is just not the case. My little sister opted for humanities and is loving it!

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    1. :) :) :) Best wishes for your little sister :) :) I opted for Humanities and love it! There are times I wish I had not entered the world of work and had continued studying...some of the subjects are very fascinating - I feel you just can't get enough of those!

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  13. Lovely blog. I liked the way u r living ur life. Wished i could.

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    1. It's always better late than never :) Start now!

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  14. Nice blog. Please visit my blog.

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  15. 'Living the life' is what matters at the end of the end. If you are not happy with what you do then its all just a waste of time.

    The expectations from the so called society is what kills our desires,but there is always a way out..we just have to find it :)

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    1. Like the age-old saying goes, "Where there is a will, there is a way."

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  16. Divya , the courage of conviction is far more important than perception of people to have lived a full life:)

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