(originally posted on November 16, 2009 to Facebook)
How does one decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives? That too, at an age where they are just getting used to being treated like an adult. Often these decisions are influenced by parents & peers which might not always be the right suggestion for the person in concern. A lot of today’s youth struggle to keep their performance levels at work at par due to the lack of work satisfaction. Some even aimlessly switch jobs hoping to find something that they really like doing. This is a global phenomenon which all of us at some point or the other have faced.
My dad has 5 brothers & 6 sisters, my mom has 2 brothers & 2 sisters which, in short means that I’ve enough cousins to fill up an entire tennis stadium! Every single one of my cousins are either engineers, doctors or MBA holders. Faced with this difficulty, I had to convince my parents to let me pursue my passion (at least that was what I thought at that point of time), Fashion Designing. It wasn’t easy. When I got to 11th grade, I convinced my parents that I would try & get into medicine but I put forward a condition that I would not take up mathematics (I hate it!). They agreed. After 12th grade, they send me to coaching classes to prepare for the entrance exams. I used to leave home for coaching classes & would land up in a movie theatre; this was the case on most of the days. Finally when the results were out, my parents were shocked, not only had I not got through, I was actually disqualified! In the meanwhile, I was busy looking up colleges in Bangalore teaching Fashion Design. After much pleading & begging, my folks finally caved. At first I was pretty excited to be doing the course, as I began to understand more about the profession, I realized that I had no skill what-so-ever to make it as a fashion designer. I considered my options; I was sure that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in the confines of a garment factory nor was I interested to work in a store. I was confused by the time I completed my bachelors degree, I wanted to do so many things like, be an event manager, a journalist, film maker, television producer etc; I finally followed my instinct & decided to do a course in event management. It’s been 2 years since I’ve gotten into the event business now, I guess I’m at least close to what I wanted to do.
I know a million other people who have faced or still are facing similar problems. A lot of us do courses thinking that it is indeed our true calling. Some do not even get the opportunity to explore the opportunities that exist relating to career options, they are either tied down by pressure from the family or they aren’t aware of the various fields where they can exhibit their natural talents the best. I was recently part of a career summit for students, it had both students & their parents in attendance. 40 different professions, both conventional & alternative, were covered. I keenly observed all the participants, I found a bunch of students who seemed to be spending more time in the cafeteria & socializing rather than attending the sessions. Then there was another cross-section of the crowd who were floating aimlessly in & out of various sessions not understanding a thing of what was happening. There was another group of students & parents who attended only mainstream professions like medicine, engineering, law & management. The child was blindly following the parent probably thinking when they could go back home & catch up on some television. There were a few parents who seemed interested in exploring their own career opportunities, they attended some of the off-beat sessions like wildlife photography, product design, digital art & radio jockeying etc; All this after depositing their child in one of the rooms where the main stream professions were taking place! I spoke to a few students who had attended the session on acting. I asked them if they were seriously thinking of taking up acting as a profession. One smart fellow out of the lot quickly replied, “No sir, our parents will kill us if we ever told them that we wanted to get into acting. We just wanted to see the actress who was conducting the session & click few pictures with her.” I then spoke to a very intelligent looking girl who was coming out of the session on forensic sciences. I asked her if she was passionate about taking this up as a career, she replied, “NO! I love reading mystery novels. I wanted to see a real life forensic expert once, that’s why I attended this session. I plan to be a doctor, I’m already going for coaching classes.” My point of mentioning all this is that, even when there are these rare platforms for one to actually discover themselves & their true calling, nobody really makes use of it.
I felt that the movie ‘3 Idiots’ was only partially successful in delivering the message to the audiences about the necessity to be employed in a job where one is completely satisfied. The consequences of not being happy at your job are many, it curtails creativity, it creates depression & frustration, it makes room for self-doubt, it hampers productivity & much more. Chasing success isn’t a bad thing but you’ll never be able to attain it unless you’re on the right track. To be able to succeed, you need to be happy with what you’re doing. It’s never too late to change tracks. So what if you didn’t have the opportunity to pursue your passion when you were younger, I suggest you don’t delay it any longer. Success is essentially a theory, put into practice, it boils down to being self sufficient. A message to the youth, you lead your life on your own terms in every other way, why compromise when it comes to your career. Follow your passion if you know what it is or try to discover it through alternative sources. Listen to what the elders have to say, use that information to make more informed & intelligent decisions. Make your own mistakes but be sure to learn through them as well. Like the saying goes, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”