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“20 something?? When are you settling down??

Rainy mornings have something of an ethereal charm in them. You wake up late and are not able to decide if to go on with the day or enjoy the last weekend of your holidays in bed. Technology has taken up so much of our stuff that going to the terrace to have a peaceful walk in the evening seems like a bliss in some form. Trying to juggle up friends, family, work, studies and the pressure of being in the 22nd year of life takes up a lot of energy. However, of late, there’s something new scaring away people. The fact that so many are already working and “we are still jobless.”

I read somewhere that facebook gives rise to narcissism. When everyone posts their smiling photos and every single achievement, there’s a tendency to feel that their lives are more happening and fun whereas we are just whiling away our time. Well, I’m doing that – I’m writing this blog and trying to meet the deadline I set up for myself. Whiling away time? Maybe!

But, all these career conversations make me wonder – Just because you see most of your batch-mates ‘settling down’, you feel like a loser who is doomed to search for jobs forever. In the quest for trying to get that ‘perfect’ life your you think they have, you tend to race with time and then give a status update about how you managed to get a call from some company with no job experience whatsoever. Where does this lead you? In the end, I mean? Yeah, there’s always “Jo hoga dekhenge par abhi izzat bachani hai” thing, but, what about the bigger picture? What about your journey and the ways you plan to achieve what you want?

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had such stuff myself. My doctor told me I need to stop and think and not compare my life with others. Being financially independent and trying to help family is great, but there is a reason why parents say, “Itni jaldi kya hai? Ache se padh lo, fir toh saari zindagi kaam hi karna hai! Kaun sa ghar baithogi?” They get all heckled up when they see kids of neighbours getting where they wanted us sooner than us. But, nevertheless, somewhere our hasty decisions trouble them. Maybe, its because of the success-driven society we have. And the constant pressure to impress everybody around us.

Having the courage to carve your own path is rare. Not because its hard per se, but because people around you tend to question your each and every move, including why you need to settle down before your late twenties. And that’s why we have very few people who tend to “Listen to the voice of the universe and then, get ready to pass the test the universe throws at us.” No wonder, the biggest test is on how to walk away from the dogs who constantly bark at you. Our culture, as I read in Mitch Albom’s book “Tuesdays with Morrie”, focuses too much on achievements and time duration and less on how people got there. That explains why most parents want kids to opt for engineering rather than medicine because, come on, have you ever seen a 20-something doctor?? Who’s gonna marry you once you hit your thirties?

I still remember the lines I read about Kalpana Chawla in 8th grade. She always said, “Journey matters as much as goal. However, the world is not gonna be there with you in your journey. We’re not conditioned that way. We just see the outcome, not the efforts and how pain, frustration and struggle led one to reach the horizon. We just see the horizon.” The reason why most dreams do not come true is not because they were inherently childish and stupid but because we stop believing in them. We get so busy comparing our lives with others. What happens next? More frustration and the needless burden we put on the next generation.

I was told yesterday that I keep shouting about women empowerment and gender bias because somewhere deep down I myself don’t believe that men and women have to co-exist and that while one claims of physical superiority, the other can claim of the strength to bring a baby in this world. And that most problems can be fought, not with fist, but with brains. Even to win a game of soccer or cricket, one needs to be mentally strong. If you watch Mahabharat you might have realized that the biggest mistake Duryodhan made was to choose Krishna’s mighty army instead of Krishna himself. There was no way Pandavas could have won the war had it not been for Krishna’s tactics. But, because the world respects strength, we tend to show off our muscles more than our brain power. The ways of the world get to us and we forget the way we chose to go about our paths. Instead, we walk down the trodden road, have the same life as others, remind ourselves of how the world thinks we are successful while deep down we get fed up with the monotonous, routine life we have. Easy to be a part of a flock of sheep than to walk alone without your own shadow.

Everybody has their own definition of success. Some are content with a bank job and a rich spouse while others are happy with a single life and partying every weekend. The problem arises when we start thinking others are far happier than us cos they began working at 22, married some super rich person at 25, had kids at 27 and are enjoying their lives sipping cappuccino in their mansion-like house. Have we peeped into their minds and seen what really happens behind those cantilevered doors? Where does that feeling leave us?

I might meet you in the future, still struggling with career options, but I just want to make sure I don’t succumb to the standards of success kept by others and ultimately end up thinking, “what if…”. I keep recalling that dialogue of R Madhavan in 3Idiots – “Main photographer bann ke kam paise kamaunga toh kya hoga? Ghar chota hoga, gadi choti hogi, par main khush toh rahunga na!” Sounds too ideal, na? Well, having a small car or house is not ideal as per the society. But, as long as the person owning them is happy, content and at peace, there’s no reason why others should doubt anything. And there’s no way we should let others and their negativity get to us. That’ll leave us nowhere, anyway.

Can’t think of any cliche ending. I guess I’m done here. You are here to comment. Judge it all you want.

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