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

Parents, Your Expectations Might Be Crushing A ‘Million Dreams And A Billion Lives’

More from Suhani Rampal

By Suhani Rampal:

“You’re a disappointment,” his father said. He had promised to study well and score better than before but he failed. He was good at basketball and felt elated playing it but his dad said, “You’re not pursuing this game, there is no future in India.” Little did he know he’d have to lie to go play matches when kids at his age lied about bunking and drugs. He became the sports captain in his school but was again discouraged as he realised that an such an achievement would also be debated at home. He wanted to take up arts in high school but he couldn’t because his mother said, “Science it is for you. You’ll do engineering.”

He wanted to live his own way but was told to live a certain way and whenever he let his parents down, he thought of himself as no more than a failure. Parents said, “Do this,” and like an ideal child, he did. Still, little did he know that at the end of the day he’d hear the golden words, “You’re a disappointment.” Burdened by expectations that he never wanted to fulfil, he was neither allowed to live his life his way nor was he allowed to become what he may have become. He couldn’t think straight, he couldn’t figure out his life. He didn’t know why he kept failing even when he was trying. It wasn’t something he was interested in, it wasn’t even something he thought he could do. He was just told to live someone else’s life. He was a mere puppet. The family he longed to see after being in college was not pleasing him anymore now. He did call me when all this happened and I remember what he said, “Why don’t they let me live, what is so wrong that I’m doing? I feel like a drum that everyone keeps beating.” Those were the last words I heard and then his phone switched off after that always.

It is so sad that our whole life is spent not running after our dreams but living a lie. We are told that we come into this world alone and we go back from this world alone. Then why can’t we live the way we want to live. If such is the course of life then let it flow. Let us swim with the current than drown fighting against it. Why don’t parents understand that it is not the era they witnessed anymore? There is not just the engineer, doctor, teacher and government employee anymore. There is more to life and our fingers can’t count the number of career paths we have now.

In a crime show on television called “Crime Patrol”, I once saw the story of a boy who was good at acting. His confidence lit up the stage every time he stepped on it. He enjoyed the attention he got. The limelight became his favourite spot. His parents saw money coming in easy through his acts, so they made him do plenty of shows. Now, every time he made a mistake, he was scolded, whereas earlier he used to be praised always for good performances. His interest in acting slowly declined because it wasn’t just about fun and fame but had become a family business game. The whole house became dependent on what he earned; factories, properties were now their goals. He lost his childhood slowly, they didn’t realise. And one fine day, they lost him.

Two different stories but both resulted in the kids being moulded into the expectations of the parents. An age where they should be left to make mistakes and learn, enjoy and follow their desires and dreams, they are, alas, held by their necks and told to succumb. If such remains the condition in India, the vicious circle of expectations and the obsolete ideas behind education would continue crushing a million dreams and a billion lives for sure. Some yield to these forced paths that they are told to follow just like a horse who is bound to see only forward. Some get crushed beneath the lies that their lives become.

Quoting the suicide note of Kriti Tripathi, a 17-year-old girl who wrote it before jumping to her death from a five-storey building: “It’s not because of bad scores in JEE Mains. I was expecting worse. It’s because I’ve started hating myself to the extent that I want to kill myself… You manipulated me as a kid to like science… I took science to make you happy, I had interest in astrophysics and quantum physics and would have done a B. Sc… I still love writing, English, history (sic)… and they are capable of exciting me in the darkest times.” She requested her parents to not force the same on her younger sister and let her take the subjects she is interested in and is capable of completing. Ending the suicide note, she requested the HRD Ministry and other authorities to shut down the coaching centres in Kota as they “suck”!

It is true that one suicide note cannot and will not prove the fact that such coaching centres should be shut down. But it definitely rings resonates with all those who are unable to cope and quit. 19 deaths were reported last year and five were reported in just one month in Kota. And these are just the figures from one single place. There would be a hundred more. Is it the pressure of the coaching centres or is it the competition or is it the expectations that cause many to fall into the trap of depression? Some commit suicide and some deal with acute depression and need proper treatment to recover. Though it is a fact that many clear the examination with flying colours, and while some are pursuing their dream, many of them are living a lie.

Have you seen “3 Idiots” or “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” or “Wake Up Sid”? Did you just watch them to kill time? I bet you did. Because if the messages delivered by such movies were implemented correctly, I bet the lives of many could have changed. ‘Seize the day’, ‘Follow your heart and your dreams’, ‘Don’t run after success, work hard and success shall follow’, ‘Don’t fear what you do, wearing rings on the fingers will not help you reap what you sow’, ‘Who knows if you’re going to live another day, live in the moment..’, and there were many more. But all these just remain quotes which rather than being adopted in life merely hang on the walls in our rooms. Who are you trying to fool? What are you trying to become? Accept what and who you are and make the most of it. The ultimate goal in life must not be to have a salary with a lot of zeroes but to be happy. How can you be happy if you’re not you?

Well, for many, the strings in their heart might resonate and the nerves in the brain might squeeze to think, ponder and introspect but for others (which includes the majority), it would be just another philosophical article. It’s never too late. Your life can turn however you want it to. All you need to do is to just listen to the voice from within. Wishing for a private jet, a private island, a desirable salary package, a lifestyle that you can enjoy is what everyone does. But does any one of them do the right thing to do in order to get what they wish? By following the crowd, can you be extraordinary? You can only be extraordinary if you do what you’re good at and if you still don’t know what you’re good at, alas, you’re probably already a victim of the vicious circle.

Featured and banner images for representation only. Credit: Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.

You must be to comment.

More from Suhani Rampal

Similar Posts

By Anshul Abraham

By Aditya Lakshmi

By Uday Che

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