What do you want to become when you grow up?
I was always intrigued by this question when I was growing up because it seemed to be the favorite one for everybody – teachers, relatives, family friends, neighbors and the likes. Though I would have loved to have an answer like most of my friends did – “I would want to become an engineer or maybe a doctor.” (You can see they even had an alternate option, just in case) - I was confused. What I wanted to become or could not become seemed directly related to the subjects I hated or failed in school. Although as a child I wanted to become an astronaut because the sky fascinated me, by the time I was 13, I realized that it was not going to happen considering I was miserable in Math and Science. Even if managed to become an astronaut in my wildest dreams, I would be one of those ‘drifters’ who could not understand the ‘science’ behind speed, distance, time etc. to reach the desired destination! At the same time I could not find a ‘subject’ that would help me say – “I want to become a singer but I don’t like Indian classical music or I want to become a race driver because I am fascinated with cars.” I must admit that in a few instances I did manage to tell people that probably when I grow up I will sing or race cars, but such answers from a 15 year old were received with utter disbelief especially when everybody else was preparing so hard to get into the best engineering, medical or business colleges. It was ok when I was 5 years old to say that I want to become a singer and relatives would drive me nuts to sing a few lines in every birthday party. I could also get away by saying that I want to become a painter and the general reaction would be – “oh that’s so sweet.” But by the time you are 15-16 you got to be more serious. If you still say you want to become a painter, the general reaction would then be – “ohhhhhhh…Interesting.” (But why did you waste your father’s money by going to school?!) Few days back, thanks to an office project, I read about how formal education is the biggest deterrent to creativity. Today I am proud that formal education never found anything in me to be proud of!
That brings me to another question. Did they ever seriously teach us in school how to be good human beings? Yes there was a subject called ‘Moral Science’ in which everybody could pass by writing a few good things about God, (with due respect) but was this ever a serious subject matter? I never got told off by anybody for not doing well in Moral Science and neither did anyone seriously appreciate someone for being good in the subject. All that good that exists in me is purely because what I leant from my parents or by being in good company. So when people like me, formally educated, cannot say that I learnt the ‘science’ of being a good human being in school, expecting uneducated people to be morally good is cardinal sin.
Literature was boring. Science & Math I could not decipher and so I choose Commerce for college. Not by choice but by design. So school was the last time I encountered Science and majority of Math I ever learnt. Education post that was fairly easy but I still never tried to answer what I would want to become and that probably was the best decision of my life. I was open, had no preconceptions or benchmarks. I always gave my best shot to everything that came my way thinking that this is the best that could ever happen for me and this is what I was always meant to do. Surprisingly there always seemed to be better things around the corner. Like someone very wise once told me – “Arranged marriages work because the nice things, no matters how small, give you happiness that is far larger compared to love marriages where the small things are often taken for granted as the expectations of a ‘dream relationship’ is so high.”
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
This is the question the person taking the interview finally asked me on this date exactly 10 years back. Little did he know that I had come for the interview just because I was promised a few bottles of beer by a friend whose elder sister ran the local placement agency. I was just filling the assembly line so that she could earn her incentive which was dependent on the number of eligible candidates she could summon for the interview. That was the first and last interview I ever gave.