Dilemma : a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially ones that are equally undesirable.
Feasibility: the state or degree of being easily or conveniently done.
Practicality: the aspects of a situation that involve the actual doing or experience of something rather than theories or ideas.
Choice: an act of choosing between two or more possibilities
Back when I was in school, like most Asian parents my parents would stress upon our education as being the most important aspect in our lives. They told us how a good education would ensure that we’d be successful, happy adults with a steady income and enough to spare to lead a content luxurious life. I to this day do not disagree to it. Of course formal education up to a certain level is a must to function in present day India.
I had been a Straight-A student all my life thanks to my parents’ persistence, love and sacrifice (I take no credit for this, if left alone, I’d have probably failed most subjects). We’d not attend any family gatherings leading up to the exam days, we’d not be allowed to watch television for long, no sleeping late, or spending hours finishing dinner, rising early to finish up chapters. Mum would always make sure I had healthy snacks lying around to munch on during the grueling study sessions. Dad would watch TV on mute. Most of our relatives avoided barging in during exams lest they disturb our flow. They sympathized as they had children of the same age and we’d do the same for them. It was a norm all across my neighborhood, probably most of India in 90’s and 2000’s.
You’d think I had an unhappy home. But no, I loved being with my family all year round. They were fun absolutely amazing people who’d love me unconditionally. We have always been a tight bunch. They’d made me realize that just a month or two of hard-work and abstinence during exams and I would have a report card to flaunt, a degree to be proud of, a respectable highly paid career.
And so I am here, working for an IT firm that ranks among the top five IT companies in India. For my age, I am told I am highly paid. I have an extremely good job portfolio. I enjoy enough holidays, have a healthy work environment, have managed to make great friends around here. I even love my job a little. Thanks to my work I have traveled in and around India and abroad for a few times and I have smaller cousins who look up to me and want to be me in future.
But am I doing what I chose to do?
I did not choose to pursue science for higher education, I did not choose to take up Software as my profession.
Was I pressured into it by someone? No!
Then why would I, a person so deeply in love with arts, books, history, culture, human psychology, astronomy, makeup and hair styling etc choose to be a Java coder?
Dilemma. I was never in one. Never given a chance to be in one. My crossroad led to only one single destiny. You see, I was never presented with two situations that were equally lucrative. I was convinced if I pursued a degree in fine arts, even from the best college in India, I’d still have to struggle to get to where I am now with my current job. Probably I would still be unpaid, trying to figure a steady source of income, becoming a ridicule in the society(because close mindedness), becoming a good example of what not to do in life! Example: A friend who chose to be a photographer, is still struggling with finances. Mind you he is amazing at it and tells me he envies the stability and money my job brings to me. He does odd jobs to feed himself and afford a humble shelter.
Another friend who opted out of a corporate job to pursue a dance career two years back regularly calls me up for financial help. And not once has she told me she regrets quitting her job, but she has never told me she’s any happier for it either! What are we doing to our talented people? and why are we doing this to them? Not providing them with enough opportunities, constantly looking down upon them for taking reckless decisions? reckless? really? You chasing your dreams can me more reckless than you speeding to office everyday, at a job you never wanted, with a degree you never fully signed up for!
Was my choice absolutely not feasible? In a third world country where people struggle to get a good job even with the finest degrees in their hands. The best lawyers unemployed, engineers and Chartered Accountants still looking for better payed jobs, would a degree in fine arts get me anywhere?
Was I being Practical? My parents, relatives, grandparents, distant cousins, neighbors and gardener all thought I was too naive to think I could earn a living with dreams as small as mine.
Back in school again, I had taken up arts as my sixth subject. I forego economics, computer science and accountancy. I remember distinctly how my teachers and school principal had taken me to the staff room to talk me into taking one of the “more important” subjects. That arts was meant for students who could not cope with the difficulties of these subjects. I also remember taking back a note from them, asking my parents to intervene in this vain decision I was about to take.
Thankfully I stood my ground and my parents supported me. There were many other “good students” who lost the battle.
I wish I had the courage to stand up later in life. I wish my parents had supported me then. I wish I could logically tell them how my choice of stream could help me stand a chance at a flourishing career. I can’t fully blame them. I could give them no arguments. India had failed to generate jobs in most sectors and the sectors it had managed to, were flooded, but your safest bet. Parents wanted stability in their children’s life. Your dreams were irrelevant. There were only a few like Shahrukh Khan, only few like Tendulkar and only one single M.F Hussain.
My choice was dictated by the needs of the modern society. It was dictated by simple demand and supply. It was dictated by the need to fit in, the need for approval from my peers. It was dictated by the need to feed my stomach.
But my soul? It’s still hungry for more. My creative side dying a slow death and my attempts at redeeming it seem feeble.
So why can’t I now change my job? Take up my passion, peruse a life I always wanted? My beloved country is fast changing, we have amazing people in all sectors flourishing now. Outlooks have changed. It gives me hope that now parents push their child to try their hands at several interests before they can make up their minds. We now have able millennials who have already started to shape their careers, flaunting their respective talents as successful You -tubers and Instagrammers. They know in present day India, they can be pastry chefs, fashion designers, makeup artists, dancers and writers. They know they’ll have to struggle but have the heart to accept and give it a go.
Let’s do it now. I have enough in the bank and I can finally think I can shut my ears to any criticism.
I feel happy and ready.
*Googles* Change career at 27. Difficult! very Difficult.
P.S. if you’ve read this and have any experience you can share. Any advice, any regrets please feel free to let me know. I hope my post was not too depressing. I also feel my Country is still an infant with only 70 years of existence and has a long way before it can sort all our problems. Also, I love my life and everyone around but I still think I am not meant for a nine-to-five. I am still contemplating and still not sure. I could use all your wisdom. Thanks for reading.
Picture credit Visualhunt