Congratulations to all high schoolers who recently scored mind-blowing percentages in their board exams.
The majority of you, however, did not score 90% plus. So, this is for you coming from someone who scored 90% on her 12th std board exams – me 🙂
I worked religiously that year and still was not expecting to touch 90 when the final results were declared. And when I learned I had scored 90%, it was like a dream. Few of the immediate things that I felt were:
That said, there was a lot more to realize as time passed by. Some of which are mentioned as advice for you because you might be in desperate need to hear this.
As days passed after my gold medal ceremony, I had this annoying feeling that the scores only reflect how good my memory is. Anyone could mug up and write it down and pass the exams without understanding a word of it. Does that really mean I am worth anything in the real world?
You might already know this but when the scores are out, it is easy to forget the most important reality of these board exams. The most important thing your scores reflect is if you had the discipline to sit down and learn. The numbers themselves are not reflective of your genius. But they are sort of (not full proof) reflection of your memory.
Soon enough, even the students who scored 99% will be forgetting everything they mugged up. That is just how the human brain works. You will remember the basic or the main points but you will forget most.
It is easy to believe the teachers and parents and feel relieved that now that I have this 90% score and wherever I go, people will bow before me. That doesn’t happen, sweetheart. Any job, internship, college, whatever you start next, you will start at the bottom and will get almost no benefit because of your 90%. The scores might help in getting admissions in the so-called ‘tough to get in’ institutions, but then again, just getting in is the tiniest part. You’ll have to work your ass off once you are there and prove yourself over and over again.
And there is no guarantee that after studying in the top institute you will be an enigma. And many people who were college dropouts or went to very average looking institutions did great in life. So, the college you study in, is also not going to determine your worth in life.
If your family is anything like mine, actually like most of the Indian parents, you may be hearing that ‘Sharma Ji or some neighbourhood uncle’ ke bache are a genius and you aren’t. When I scored 90%, I thought this was the end of that. Sadly no. As you progress, the stages of comparison and parental ridicule also advance. Earlier, it used to be about educational records, then it becomes about educational institutions, then about what companies their jobs are, their salaries and then about their weddings and then children…
The cycle of parental ridicule is endless. So if you haven’t scored 90% and regret and think that maybe if you scored 90, your parents would stop that comparison- here is the reality check: that would never happen. So, chill.
After you pass your board exams, you will be met with a number of choices, though very restricted in India. You may not get it right on the first attempt. It is easy to choose the streams your parents are forcing you to, or what your friends are choosing or that which looks fancy in your dreams. But none of these are good reasons for choosing your life path.
If you pick what your parents are forcing you to but do not feel inclined towards it personally, you will fail miserably or be unhappy the rest of your life.
If you pick what your friends are choosing, bad idea again because your enthusiasm will fizzle out soon and you will be stuck with an unhappy career.
If you choose what looks fancy without doing your homework, your research, you will be taking the biggest boulder on yourself. For instance, I loved the idea of becoming a pilot when I was a kid. When I grew older, I realized maths and maps were not my strong suits. Hence, I dropped that pilot idea because if I work 100% on it, I might become an average pilot. Contrary to that, if I pick a field in which I am great already, I would be extraordinary.
This sounds like common sense but it is so rare. I see this among all my cousins who chose these fancy streams when they have zero strengths in those areas and later fail miserably.
Life is long and as you learn, you will grow and your thinking, your interests will change. So keep that margin open. But some things are inherent in you.
For instance, the thing that was inherent in me was writing.
I was a writer since I was 6!
No one ever guided me to write, no one ever suggested to make a career out of it, I never took a single class, or any formal training in writing.
Yet, today I make most of my living as a writer; from my books and blogs. Who would have thought, right?
So instead of chasing fancy careers, and external motivations, drill down deep within yourself and ask yourself what is it that you enjoy doing most? What makes your heart sing? What can you do for the rest of your life and never get bored of it? Do that.
The craze I see most among youth today is of picking a career that comes with a ‘job guarantee’.
Sadly, it isn’t about learning, exploring and researching. It is all about what can I do in the least amount of time to get the most money, that fancy car, and that fancy schmancy house.
There isn’t much wrong with that line of thought except that you become a mediocre human who survives to pay bills and dies of jealousy all your life because there will always be a better car to chase, colleagues with bigger houses and sexier lives.
For those of you who come from financially impoverished backgrounds and may have a family dependent upon you, it is advisable to jump into some part-time job while you figure out your main career. That will take care of your funds for a while.
But for those who come from middle-class homes, do not make this horrible mistake of choosing a career based on the average salary. That is the worst way to choose a career. This is super important because you cannot change careers every day. You can change but it will take a huge amount of your life away from you.
And let’s be honest, once you get into your early to mid-twenties, there will be pressure from your families to get married and make babies and your career dreams will remain dreams. Hence, take your time but choose your career based on your love for it. People these days are making money the most unconventional ways, YouTubers for example. This was not a career option for graduates like me ten years ago. But for you it is.
So think out of the conventional box of money, designed by your parents and society.
Forget about your board percentage and focus on that big picture of who you want to be in life.