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Friends Are For Life: Don”t Let The Competition Kill The Bond You Share

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By Lata Jha: 

I don’t know if we give this a thought too often. And regardless of whether we accept it or not, it’s true that people’s perception of us as children is determined to a large extent by how we fare in our academics. Which college and consequently, what placements we manage to get for ourselves.
I was a motivated student in school. And part of the diligence came from the acknowledgement and the appreciation the good scores, when they came, brought me. Academic success, not to be confused with academic brilliance, is a big deal in our country. The school and region toppers are always the ‘best, brightest kids’, which is a really strange presumption, if one thinks about it.

exams

While an important aspect of education and schooling is meeting and interacting with people, and often making friends for life, equally inevitable is the fact that one competes with those very people essentially in exams and later in life. I’m aware of how difficult it is for a ten year old kid who’s just begun to sense the competition around him, to deal with the fact that his best friend is getting better marks than him. Not just the teachers, but even his parents cite the friend as an example. It’s always about ‘You two spend so much time together. Why can’t you learn something from him?’ Which translates roughly into ‘Why can’t you get the kind of marks he does?’
So despite the fact that you share a lot else in common, you go home together, you spend your weekends at each other’s homes, you like the same video games, but you just don’t manage to get the same marks.

Life is strange and I now realize such things are inconsequential in the long run. But it’s hard for a teenager to accept and live with the idea that he’s just not as ‘bright’ as his best friend. It’s painful when your closest buddy is the class topper, the teacher’s pet, and you’re just part of the crowd. Or when he makes it to a top college and you don’t.

Especially since the exam season is on right now and very soon, it’ll be time for those traumatising entrances, students will find themselves measuring their chances and potential of ‘making it’ very often in terms of what their friends have done or will manage to do.

I have gone through the phase of wanting to be the best among my peers. And while even today, I don’t want to set mediocre standards for myself, I now believe in competing more with myself than with others. You gradually realize how much you can learn from your friends. They might be the same age as you but they can always provide so much inspiration.

With time, the first thing I’ve learnt is to take my course, not my marks, seriously. They say nothing about me. Secondly, and perhaps consequently, I’ve learnt to imbibe the best from my peers than wanting to outdo them.

Though I prefer to study by myself, a lot of great insights have come to me during interactions with friends, sometimes an hour before the exam. I’ve learnt styles of expression, methods of analysis, and sometimes, just ways of looking at things from them. So many times, they’ve been teachers, patiently explaining things to me that will help us both for exams whose results could determine a lot for us.

It’s often said that you’re born with family, but you choose your own friends. That you have the option to decide whether they are the right people to spend your time with. I completely disagree with that. I don’t think our youth weighs so many options before making friends. We might be rational, pragmatic people, but when it comes to friends, especially after a certain age, it’s heart over brain for most of us. They are people we can’t live without, and somewhere down the road, they become as much a support system as your family. Scattered in different parts of the country and world seeking education and jobs, you realize how ridiculous it was to have let barometers like scores and placements affect you. The bond is what matters, the lessons you learn from your time together is what you should carry home. That report card will rot away in some corner of the cupboard, but the memories will sustain themselves for a lifetime and even beyond.

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  1. namita singh

    OH MY GOD!! am soo in love. it is difficult to understand what you are trying to say unless you realise it all by yourself and experiences of life.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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