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

Why Can’t My Parents Understand That Humanities Students Get Stressed Too?

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A Thought About How It All Started

Starting from how I decided my class 11th – 12th stream to where I am at present. I remember having a lot of typical Indian parental hustle over the decision of choosing my subjects after my class 10th boards. That’s maybe because I somehow always believed in studying what I love to over opting for those subjects which will either give me more “job opportunities” or will make me look like a “studious student”. Well, I guess you might have already guessed what I chose! I decided to go with humanities. I am guessing that was an easy one. What else could it be to argue upon? Haha!

I chose Humanities in class 12.

Why I Feel Pity For My Subjects

Talking about why this subject is prone to 1000s of taunts. According to what I was able to grasp via all the debates and discussions we had was that, on a whole, there are two reasons to demean this subject.

Firstly, humanities has always been a subject which is mostly taken by students who are not too smart or studious to study a subject like science. I mean, it is not always possible for every student to study the most difficult subject or the one which comparatively needs much more effort to be put in. Not everyone has the capacity to study everything which he or she is expected to. And hence, they end up taking humanities because either they find it an easier subject to cope up with or maybe because some of them genuinely want to study it.

Now according to most of our parents,  taking the same subject is like getting into the bunch of already “non-successful” people or those who eventually got a tag of a “failure”. Hilarious how being a humanities student can invite all these unwanted, uninvited, and definitely untrue tags. And our parents feel ashamed and embarrassed to say that their ward has taken up a subject like humanities.

Another and probably the last reason I could figure out was that most of us and our parents are ignorant about the career opportunities we have after opting for this subject. It’s said that humanities students do not have the access to as many career options as science/commerce students may avail. To be honest, this is partially true but not a criteria to again, demean the subject so badly. We don’t even try to look for the options we have but give our opinions on the same.

Anyway, I could manage to get out of this deliberation zone after a few months and could successfully study what I wanted to. 11th standard passed by without any major ups and downs. The only contextual conversation I remember while being in 11th was with my father where I had asked him to get me a support system that would help me prepare for my entrance exam but the only possible reply I got was – “You are a humanities student, you don’t need two years to prepare for entrances. You’ll anyhow manage both boards and entrances easily”. Well, I don’t know on what basis he guessed that it would be easy.

How The Last Year Of School Goes

Now comes the most dreadful year of the school (ironically, there’s no “school” anymore) class 12th of course. I wonder,  after all, what makes it the most dreadful year?

For me, it’s been a year where each day starts with some unreasonable expectations and ends with a lot of judgments. Talking about how the expectations which are not only unreasonable but also quite sick and dreading in nature. Every day, I am expected to prepare for my entrance exams as well as for my class 12 boards. The story doesn’t end here. I am not only expected to prepare or work hard for things but also to ace each test I write.

Representational Image.The pressure of higher secondary school plus online classes in the pandemic was a lot to bear.

When I talk about tests, I am not talking only about the pre-boards or half yearlys or even mocks for that matter. If I say every test, I mean each test possible. Be it a 10 marks paper or a 100 marker. The cherry on the cake is, if I score less I am declared to be an upcoming or an already unsuccessful student and a daughter but if I manage to score well, I am given a treat! As it was well said “99% marks laoge toh ghadi varna chadi (If you get 99% you will get a watch, otherwise underwear)” in a blockbuster movie but ironically even that failed to influence our, or at least my parents.

Attending loads of online classes daily, doing a whole lot of syllabus of two extremely different streams, being worried about the so-called internal marks inclusive of your behavior, the trivial scores of trivial tests, completion of a bunch of projects, and the notebooks where you are marked based on how rightly and neatly you manage to copy paras from the textbooks. Giving of tests daily with the pressure of getting judged at the end of the day and obviously a lot more. And yes, I will never be having any third person to make my projects or to complete my work.

How This Made Me Build An Inferiority Complex

Because, “There are also other students who do everything by themselves even if they feel burdened about it and if they can do it, why is it not possible for you to do it?” Let me keep the speaker anonymous for now!

This is the time when I recollect the above mentioned opinion about my father of how easy it will be to manage certain important things all together in one go. It might be, but isn’t for me! And this is where and how my inferiority complex started to build upon which came along with certain insecurities and is eventually turning out to be demoralizing.

This is when I am made to or I myself for that matter compare myself with others and think about how 100s of other students are achieving what they want to without complaining about XYZ things. Or probably how much better they are than me and how successfully they manage to make their parents proud. And all of this, sometimes make me feel the reverse of all that I ranted about till now and make me question myself – “Am I even right while blaming my parents while justifying the stress and the burden that I’ve got?” or “Am I the one who is  playing the victim card”, “Why do I have to rant about it?

And gradually, insecurities also passed by when I started realizing the competition I actually have between my friends, acquaintances, and me. All of this brought along with them some vicious and malicious days filled with stress which lead to a loss of appetite, excessive hair fall, severe headaches, anxiety attacks, loss of sleep, and much more.

Revelation Of The Dream

I dreamt about how badly I wanted to tell my parents how sorry I am for not being capable and smart enough to ace every exam I head towards. I cannot score full or a 99 out of 100 in each exam. I dreamt about telling them that it’s either gonna be the boards or my entrance exam and I can’t be a “topper” in both of them. It’s scary.

I already know the replies and the back answers and hence the deliberation with loads of unhealthy conversation that will take place and hence I ended up giving up on the dream of talking about this to my parents and got up from the desk, wiping the tears that had rolled down my cheeks meanwhile and continued to study.

Hence if not through my parents, then via YKA I thought of putting off my dream cum rant down to you (the reader) to feel a bit lighter.

Feature image is for representational purposes only.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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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.

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