Growing up in an uninhibited an unorthodox environment, with parents of an accommodating and unprejudiced mindset, she was still pushed into the endless pursuit of making it to AIIMS and becoming that “highly-reputed”, “well-earning” and settled individual that is universally desired and accepted. I’d known this friend of mine from quite a tender age and had seen that burning desire, passion and commitment towards Badminton within her. She followed her routine religiously, devoting significant time to the activity as well as fulfilling all academic obligations. She’d received numerous accolades and national recognition too, but alas it wasn’t enough to convince her parents.
After the Class 10 board exams, she hinted at the idea of pursuing Badminton earnestly, obviously along with her regular studies. This, however, didn’t go down too well with her parents who aspired that their daughter would become a doctor. In an attempt to satisfy their expectations and simultaneously feed her ambition, she agreed on studying medicine so long as she could go to a regular school (ie. not a hostel or junior college). Here too, her parents disagreed, arguing that she wouldn’t be able to single-mindedly focus on medicine, and eventually would not make it to a top institute. Even after various pleas and attempts to persuade them, she ended up at a junior college hostel that essentially deprived her of time to breathe, let alone practice Badminton. Not in any way did her parents have an issue with the sport in itself but were heavily persistent on the idea that she continued it “as a hobby“.
This isn’t just her story, though. This is the voice of hundreds and thousands of young Indians that end up investing extreme hours into fields that they aren’t even remotely interested in. This craze and immense pressure of getting selected into the nation’s most prestigious institutions have inexorably led children to abandon their dreams and interests and follow the predetermined path that the entire nation appears to be following. When we’re all treading down the same path, what really is it that makes us unique?
It is this mentality and mindset that gradually has to transform. Pursuing a sport, an instrument or any non-academic activity for that matter as a full-fledged career needs to be gazed upon by the same degree of respect as an academic one would have been. Admittedly, our veins burst with jingoism when we see Virat Kohli hitting a century or PV Sindhu clinching the Olympic Silver, but fail to realize that there are so many such prospective stars whose dreams are crushed as a consequence of societal pressures. Of course, from their perspective, parents’ concerns too are valid and legitimate but in order to balance the equation, it is equally important that the child is happy and content with the decision. After all, selecting subjects and anticipating potential careers are critical decisions in one’s life and need to be evaluated to various levels before arriving at a conclusion.
You only live once. Make it count.