During our parents’ time, choosing a career was easy. The highest form of respectable qualification would be that of a doctor, or a lawyer or perhaps an engineer. (I have kept engineering at the last, as its value has diminished today. The other two are still regarded as having achieved great heights.)
Very few people tried exploring anything else, like an administrative or a professional course. If they had a family business, they could conveniently choose among the limited list of courses available just for the sake of graduating. The last resorts were – B.Com, BBA or BA. Post-graduation, at that time, was like undertaking a PhD course today – rare.
I have never heard people from that generation pondering over how the next decade would be like if they had not chosen conventional careers. I think that the air was not so free at that time and people did not give academic qualifications so much importance. The women were supposed to be proficient in cooking and equipped in managing the house better than being well educated or earning money ( I am talking about our elders who, though quite educated, still chose to live within the walls of their houses to hunt for their identities. My parents are one of them and they are the best. I want to clarify that I mean no offence.) So, there was no thought of exploring better career options. In short, no path towards ‘pursuing your dreams’.
Everyone has a dream. Some are materialistic, like going on a world tour, visiting a country or buying a dream car. And some want to make their talent and hobbies their source of income.
When you choose your academic qualifications as your work and job, it is not easy either because that is an arena which you have entered after passing a plethora of exams and earning your degrees. But when you decide to take a risk, shed the conventional norms, fights the society, brush off their intriguing stares, and chase your dream to make it your work, that is when you actually decide to explore the uncharted territories, walk the unfamiliar path and follow your dreams. This forms the second category of people (the first being our elders).
There is a third category too, a mix of both – those who have a perfect balance. They love to dance when they are free and make the numbers dance on their computers at work. These people do not mix their hobbies with their qualifications. They are happy to keep their hobbies to themselves while they rock their academic qualifications at their workplace. (I am not going to talk more about them, because these people are pretty much perfect.)
So, this story is about that second class of people, who were like a tiny group that had emerged victorious after fighting different obstacles. Firstly, convincing themselves; then, fighting their family, ignoring the society and finally being prepared to face the future challenges if they chose to leave behind the herd mentality. Those who decided to chase their dreams when things were much more difficult than they are today.
As time passed, societies evolved and the countries globalised and people started thinking out of the box. Now they ( I am talking about the generation just before us) tried getting out of their inhibitions and cages, and chose a career that was their heart’s choice and not the society’s.
Standing at the threshold of picking up one degree, they thought of shedding B.Com and BA as the staple career options and tried courses like Fashion Designing, Interior Designing, Hotel Management, Chartered Accountant, Company Secretary or Automobile Designing. (Sure these were present earlier too, but were seldom chosen.) This was not easy either. Their choices were considered somewhat as being ‘stupid’ and ’emotional’. Often such not-so-mainstream career options were not seen as ‘respectable’ and fit for a family’s reputation.
I can imagine people asking – “You want to be a Chef? Why? Cook in your house. How far will you go by being a chef? Don’t disgrace our family.” The wings of a dream cut then and there.
Among those daredevils, kids who had supportive parents made it through the adversities and discouragements and finally reached their dreamland. Undoubtedly, many of them are victorious today. For example, Vikas Khanna, the celebrity Chef, Neeta Lulla, the magical fashion designer and Kausar Munir, the writer and lyricist. Yes, it must have taken them a lot of sleepless nights to stick to their decision of going against the winds and deciding to walk that unknown path.
Then appears my generation, who were no different but a step ahead. I belong to that herd of people who were still afraid to go after their dreams – who were happy being in the third category. That may have been what it looked like from the outside but I wanted to break the barriers and follow my actual dreams. Those who choose a conventional career and then get tired of it and are no longer able to endure the boredom finally decide to take the necessary step.
Miss Universe 2017 Manushi Chhillar is the best example here. Manushi Chhillar was an MBBS student when she listened to her heart’s voice and decided to go for modelling. I am very sure that hundreds of eyes would have popped out witnessing her drastic career change – choosing to model while leaving behind the respectable, noble and lucrative medical profession. She hailed from a family of doctors and scientists but showed the courage to pursue her dream of participating in a beauty pageant. She may resume her course again and that would be more astonishing and praiseworthy.
One of my friends, who was quite sharp, belonged to a respectable family. She completed her Chartered Accounting course. Sharp as she was, she got a good job and worked there for a year. Finally, she realised that she needed to get out. For the family’s dignity and her parent’s wishes, she went the unadventurous way and added a CA tag on her profile. But then she took to pursuing her dream of being an expert in baking and cooking. She left her job, waved aside her lucrative profession and then finally came back home. Today, her lip-smacking dishes are a rage among her family and friends, and a means of envy for the likes.
I belong to the same category – switching career and finally finding the path. Yes, I attempted to break from the herd, from walking the same path, stumbling on the same pit and crying due to the same sorrows. I decided to pursue writing as a means to earn money and also to soothe my soul. I decided to be a writer, rejecting my Company Secretary degree. I decided to live life my way.
The story does not end here.
There are newly emerging brave species of people today. The present hi-tech generation. The generation of startups and the generation where being a DJ is also a respectable profession, where being a yoga trainer is also a career. A generation which is open, courageous and free enough to look beyond the fixed parameters and turn their interests into a job. Today, a choreographer has the same respect as a person with a white collar job (and even better income in many cases). And a person good at baking has hundreds of people lined up to learn from her. The times have changed.
You can hear students toady graduating in courses like Gaming Design, Event Management, Nail Art, Fashion Consultant, Content Strategist and what not. The fields are new, the careers unheard of and the stakes high. They are enrolling in Yoga University and opening up dog beauty parlours. What I mean to say is that the avenues are expanding and the small world of careers and professions has exploded to mark one’s identity of courage and creativity today.
Significantly less “oohs” and “aahs” are heard when one chooses to not be a doctor, an engineer, a businessman or a 9-5 job seeker. Today, this generation is praised for having the valour to chase their dreams and break the traditional bubble. We stumble, we fall but yes, to achieve what we wish for, we have to believe in ourselves and take that extra step.
The motivational speakers and life gurus no longer emphasise only on working hard to succeed but also on listening to your heart and then doing whatever you wish.
I meet more and more people today who share my thoughts. Who think that satisfaction in life is much more than money, or society’s approval. I smile and remember those sleepless nights when I doubted my decision to go against the grain. I feel the wave of change and I am happy that it has finally arrived.
I feel this change resonating from everywhere with much more intensity and conviction. A thought which was buried deep in my heart for so long.
Today, I feel that the world has changed. It is bolder and more intelligent today. People are finding ways to be happy while struggling with the complexities of their lives.