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What The Hell Are You Going To Do With Your Life?

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By Namrata Nadkarni:

Having recently graduated from the University, there will be innumerous questions dying to be answered in one’s mind. Having a first class degree doesn’t really make things any easier. Parents usually fail to get this point. “You studied engineering for the past four years… Doesn’t that mean you are going to become an engineer?” Well umm… “No”. Why make 1+1=2 when it beautifully adds up to 11? I can be whatever I wish to be for heaven’s sake! (Although I am fully aware that this attitude somewhat attributes to that of a toddler wanting a toy in the toy-store!)

 

Those long hours of History lessons back in school didn’t go waste. They brought before us all the interesting people in history that landed up doing the least expected. Aren’t we all in awe of those dancers who gave up their ballet slippers to write a thesis on invertebrates? And the scientists who took to writing introvert poetry? Who wants to claim in their old-age saying that they sat for a couple of decades behind the latest PC’s though secretly deep down they wished they could have killed themselves with their office stationery at hand, in their cubicle?

This is the time to make certain decisions, the time of a “quarter life crisis”. Very few people often know what they really want to be. The rest just do stuff, the way they do it, is because either the people around them do it that way, or because they are asked to do so. Why choose to do something you know you won’t be happy doing till the end? It’s like choosing a partner in crime: sometimes you really like them, but you know you have to bump them off and be gone with the money.

We don’t want to be those “been there done that” kind of people who just do things ‘cause people do them that way. We would rather be those who did not achieve their goals but learnt a lot on the way and knew that it was never a waste.

We are all looking up with gleaming eyes to the climax of that goal that we all wait for–“Freedom”. For the coming years of our life, how many times can we say when that morning alarm snoozes for the third time “Oh the hell with it, I am sleeping in”. Our opportunities for life will never again be so great. When again can we crack those silly jokes and well those…Umm… dirty ones too..? And yet while enjoying those of life’s little freedoms we still indulge half of our brains in trying to work on the next step. For some people the path is all laid. Dad wants you to take over the business. The others are meanwhile getting a degree while still keeping their eyes open for that rich doctor/engineer.

These are worthy pursuits, no doubt, but those of us who flinch at the idea of taking these boring traditional steps…’The Unexpected’ holds a lot.

Why not spend a year after graduation in Malawi teaching the kids there to speak English and let them teach you Chichewa? Why not go on a cruise around the world fighting the Atlantic pirates, catching your own meals for the day? Why not go apple picking in the orchards of Himachal Pradesh, strolling the gardens with the locals? Why is it that we always land up taking that “oh-so conventional” path in life already set before us, rather than paving the way for our own?

I know a heavy income can do wonders, but if the inside is all screwed up, then even an Armani suit can’t do much to hide it.

It’s time we gave this some thought. Are we going to be that crow that dropped pebbles into his jar to lift the level of water, when no one of his kind even thought of doing so, or be those well marinated turkeys waiting to be cooked inside the oven preheated by someone else before?

You must be to comment.
  1. sapan

    i agree… i wish that the constant pressure exerted on students to choose their careers at the age of 16 and follow it for the next 50-60 years be put to an end…

  2. Nishant

    many of us think this way and want to be free from shell we are living in. Inside we know “I DONT BELONG HERE”, but unable to find way out. It’s so disappointing that knowing the fact I can do nothing.Dont know where to go and what to do. No passion no creativity, nothing. Waiting for something to happen. Some day I will know why I am here and what is my goal.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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