I recently made a switch from a technical background to a literary one. And boy, was everyone surprised (read shocked)!
I grew up in a family of science graduates. For them, the mere idea of someone pursuing arts is truly illogical. After all, why do something that does not (almost) guarantee a six-figure salary! Why indeed?
Trying to explain to your folks the why and why nots of a life-altering decision can be a very hectic process. You might have almost done the job, reached the finish line but then there will be some relative of yours who’ll go, “Why is your daughter not doing MBA? My sister’s son is doing MBA from Ahmedabad, and he is already placed! Does she want to become a writer or what?” She’ll be laughing at her own wit, ignoring the growing scowl on your face.
I get that parents have our best interests at heart. They want their children to succeed, and for them, that means earning enough to have a luxurious and respectable lifestyle. I don’t blame them for that. In this whole dilemma of life choices, one thing that often gets overlooked is passion. The will of a child to pursue creative interests is often crushed under the weight of societal expectations.
Hence, the flooding of engineering colleges across the country. Because when you don’t know what you want with your life, you go with the safest bet- Engineering. It’s respectable, acceptable and will surely pay your bills, and restrict the flow of questions like “Beta ab aage kya karna hai?” You will get a job, have a well-settled life but whether your heart will be in it is debatable. Because money is not a guarantee of a happy life, it’s just one variable out of a dozen.
Our parents were the children of a carefree, hopeful India, where opportunities were less, but satisfaction was found in every nook and corner. It was a simpler time. The millennials, however, face a different India- it’s competitive, weary and drowning under its own ambitions. Hence the lure of wealth has a certain charm to it. If you were to ask what a person wished to be, there are hardly any chances of them replying, “I want to live a happy, satisfied life.” Instead, there will be plenty of “I wish to get a good job” or “a house and that car”, or “a rich lifestyle” etc. And there lies the problem.
Because how did we become such a materialistic population that rather than fulfilling to the higher passions of our lives and living it to the fullest, concern themselves with the norms of stability that have been drilled into us from birth? Why do we require so much courage to follow our real ambition, that instead, we cave-in to the pressure of living a monotonous life of a 9-5 job? Why is it that money is our primary concern while choosing a career path for our kids?
We need to stop focusing on just earning, but try to live life for the moment. Teach our kids how to earn while also focusing on how to live. We need a bit of satisfaction in our lives to appreciate what we have first, before going after more. We need to be free of the influence money has on us and live each day as it comes. I do not mean that you spend all that you earn or stop caring about your finances entirely, but placing less emphasis on its presence. The money will come back, this time will not. The coals of our youth need to burn for the pursuit of knowledge and satisfaction, rather than just wealth.
It is high time we stopped running in circles and broke free of this meaningless trend we have set for ourselves. Follow our hearts, let our passion lead us. I am sure it will take us to a better place.