This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Vishesh Jain. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Dear 17-Year-Old Me, I Have Bad News From The Future, But It’s All Good!

More from Vishesh Jain

By Vishesh Jain

Dear Vishesh of 2008,

For representation only

As you are studying for your class 12th board exams, worrying about which college to take admissions in and what to be, by all means I urge you – worry! Yes! I have bad news from the future, these marks matter. Mom and dad were right! It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and every decimal of mark matters.

I have more bad news from the future. You will not score well. You will score a 50 in English and go to a Grade-B college to study business management. You will not follow father’s map of success – go to a top college, then graduate school, land a high profile consulting job, and find happiness. You will not find the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow there, the success you were striving for. You will not even find the rainbow – the passion that would take you to that pot of gold. But the good news is – it’s all okay!

You see initially you will chase all the wrong things – marks, attendance, peer validation, and parental approval on your career choices. The problem is you don’t know what’s out there and what matters to you, so you will take others’ word for it and think this is what career and life are all about – the best college, the highest marks, the best job, the best salary, which isn’t a lie because to a large extent these things do matter in your career.

But, here’s the other side. You will realise that to your employer, your analytical skills and concise writing skills matter more than your comprehensive high-scored answer sheets. You will realise that the best salaries sometimes come at the cost of your sleep, weekends, and creative freedom. You will realise that life isn’t always a popularity contest and having your own identity matters so much more. And at that moment you will question everything you learnt, and start your own quest to find your answers and identity beyond the boundaries of academic sessions and books.

In this quest, you will learn that more than marks and attendance, skill and exposure matter. You will learn that you will gain these two attributes not from the classroom sessions or boardroom meetings you currently dream of attending, but from various experiences in the field as a salesman, freelancer, and NGO volunteer and by working directly with people who are smarter and wiser than you are, sometimes even for free. You will learn the 4Ps of marketing not from the sermons delivered by professors, but from the ‘lala‘ at your local Kirana store. You will learn more through experiential learning than bookish learning will ever teach you. You won’t be alone – the future Prime Minister of your country never went to college. He is an experiential learner too.

You will one day look back at your college education and feel it failed in its primary purpose – to expand one’s horizon of thinking and help develop critical thinking skills which the individual can apply to an array of problems. After all, what is work but getting paid to solve people’s problems effectively and efficiently? What’s more, you will see similar loopholes in school education as well. You will soon see that it was never about the drainage systems and Great Bath of the Indus Valley Civilization or who built which Pyramid, that’s trivia. It’s about the kind of thought process and resourcefulness those civilizations had despite their technological and scientific handicap. But, which history teacher ever told you that? You will understand Akbar the Great wasn’t so great, and there is more to Hitler than the Holocaust. Your first people-management lesson will come then – people aren’t just black or white as you were told. They are both.

There are going to be things in life which will affect your career and matter more to you way beyond the syllabi of any comprehensive school or college curriculum – how to not be broke, how to get laid, fall in love, or manage a broken heart, how to manage failures, and how to plan your future.

And then the holy grail of all realizations will come to you – dad’s map of success is flawed. It will not work for everyone, every time. It won’t for you. So, you will go ahead and try looking at other maps for a while – your friends’, family’s, bosses,’ in biographies and autobiographies, in self-help books, in spirituality.

Until you will discover that it doesn’t exist. There is no one map to success – only a compass, pointing to a different north for different people. So you will start to build that compass with your own unique skills, experiences, exposure, desires. You will start your most treasured collection – of mental models – different perspectives, ways of thinking, advice from different experiences you had or people shared with you. And then you will be ready to move towards your rainbow and your pot of gold, not the world’s.

The bad news is that formal education will fail you. But the good news is, life’s lessons won’t.

Vishesh of 2015

You must be to comment.
  1. Suraj Godiyal

    I loved the article

  2. issacthomas3

    wo0ww…dude…the article touched my heart..each n every word of it is so true…

More from Vishesh Jain

Similar Posts

By Imran Khan

By swonshutaa dash

By Hariaksh Kamal

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below