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Three Steps To Tackle Unwanted Career Advice And Demoralising Comments

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By Srishti Singh:

“Gpa kitna aaya?”
“Itna kam kyun?”
“Kyunki…saas bhi kabhi bahu thi..err no…kyunki main jhooth nahi bolti…sheesh…kyunki…aapse matlab?…uh-oh!”

Part of my life plan is to write a book titled “How to handle obnoxious questions of Auntyji like a pro” (And I somehow believe it’ll become a bestseller).But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

I’m writing because it’s THAT time of the year again. 12th standard students have just finished their board exams and have stressful admission months in front of them. Most of us have been through the phase and know how tumultuous it can be. Board exams, endless admission forms, cut-offs, uncertainties, rejections and fear of not living up to the expectations of the parents of family can be a lot to take.


Throw in annoying family friends and relatives and wham! The peace that kids require in these crucial months is replaced with confusion, irritation and in some cases self-hatred. Suddenly, the student finds himself thinking how well Sharma Uncle’s daughter is doing or how nice a ‘package’ Rekha auntie’s son got.

I come from a town that’s somewhat a mini-Kota in itself. Once upon a time, a group of guys(yes, only guys) got really high ranks in JEE. Some say it’s because they were really sharp and determined, some say it’s because of excellent mentoring and others of course gave the credit to luck.

Suddenly, everyone wanted to be an IITian. Coaching classes sprung up in leaps and bounds, parents started spending more and more on coaching, entrance exams became a common topic of discussion and local newspapers started printing pages full of toppers interviews. All of a sudden a new education culture was developed. Students were expected to take up science and get good ranks in competitive exam.

It turned worse with the formation of ‘The Amateur Career Experts’ or the ACEs. These ACEs mostly turned professional after their son/daughter got into IIT/AIIMS/IIM or some other prestigious college. You could avail their services almost everywhere. Parties, picnics, markets, PTAs or worse, your own home. And sad as it may be, they are only growing in number.

So how exactly should one tackle these ACEs? IS there a permanent solution? The rare breed of ‘socially awkward’ people(like me) can try the Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi answer. It worked for me. But then, it requires years of practice and considerable amount of experience. So I suggest trying out the following three steps:

1) Know who you’re taking advice from: Before getting depressed about what your ACE might have said, do a background check of the person. Have they cleared some major exam themselves? Do they have some other major achievement to their credit? Have they made any significant contribution to society? If all your answers are a ‘NO’, then please use the filter technique.

2) Filter, filter, filter: One of the few things I’ve learnt from my electronics course is how efficient a filter can be in eliminating the things you don’t want. ACEs are basically good folks. They do say nice things every now and then. All you need to do is get rid of their ‘obnoxious interrogations’. Excuse yourself for a bit, pretend your mom is calling or simply stare blankly at them.

3) Beat them at their own game: When ACEs end their unbearable monologues with things like-

Varun ke to exams mein sirf 89% hi aaye, pata nahi kya karega yeh ladka!”,know that it’s a trick statement.

They usually expect answers like-“Are kya baat kar rahi hain aunty…who toh class ka topper hai!Mere toh 70 bhi nahi aate!

Surprise them with something like-“Sahi keh rahi hain Aunty. Bechare ke toh extracurricular kafi kharab hain. Aaj kal kitabi keedon ko kaun poochta hai!”

However, one thing needs to be kept in mind. ACEs aren’t really bad people. The trouble is that the world we’re living in has become really competitive. So, intentionally or otherwise, people might say things that can badly affect the other person’s mental peace. The trick lies in using a little creativity and imagination to make life much easier!

You must be to comment.
  1. Dhruv Mohan

    Haha I guess we all know a bit too many ACEs

  2. Anjana

    Interesting- though I am out of that phase of life( at present I am a Mom of a teenager who would soon be in the same category facing ACEs) this piece reminds me of my time. I was based in Patna with my family and took admission in a college in Chandigarh for a degree in Sociology Honours. Met a relative (an ACE) based in Chandigarh who came up with ,” you have come so far and paying so much to get an ARTS degree” I had cringed inside but ignored it. Laughed it off inside at the ignorance and limited exposure of the well meaning ACE! 👍

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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