Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mom, Dad! Listen to me for once!

Dear Mom & Dad!

Another year has passed! I am seventeen years old now! These seventeen years have brought about tremendous changes in me! I’ve learnt a lot in these years and I am a lot wiser than I was ten years ago! I have grown up listening to every word of what you say. Whatever I am today is because of you. But today, I want you to listen to me!

Today, I have completed my schooling and I am looking forward to my graduation. You are aware of my interest in painting & drawing. You probably acknowledge that I am creative. You do not know that I can excel these areas. Your definition of a career ends with engineering, medicine or an MBA. But today, the world has many more options than these. And I want to choose a different path – I want to be a painter! Will you listen to me this one time?

Mom, do you remember the day when I was five years old and I wrote the alphabets in a haphazard manner? I thought it looked artistic but you termed it as illegible. You compared me with the next door kid and expected me to be as good as him. You misunderstood my ability and pressurized me to write properly. It hurt; but it did not matter to you! Such comparisons continued all through my schooling and ended up stressing me throughout. You may not have realised the impact. But I will feel it!

Because your definition of achievement ends with my scoring more than the others, I have become a rote learner. Conceptually, I am very strong; but can I apply my learning anywhere? I doubt! I know Newton’s first law of motion by heart but I do not know where to use it! I can blurt out HCF and LCM of numbers like the back of my hand but I do not know where I can apply them! This stress has affected my learning apart from taking a toll on my health. Physics states that everything has a breaking point under pressure. This is true of human beings too. I am thankful that I did not hit one ever!

Dad, you are the wisest in the family! I believe every word of what you say! I trust your capabilities to manage the household, to take care of every one of our needs. Why don’t you believe in me and my capabilities? You have taught us the value of trusting people. But, it’s disheartening that you don’t trust me and my judgement or choice? If, as parents, you don’t believe in me, nobody will!

You keep telling me that I cannot succeed in life taking up something like painting. But that depends on how you define success, Dad! For you, success could mean wealth. For me, success could mean being happy and making others happy with what I do! Why can’t I work towards my success on my own terms?

Mom, you advise me everyday that if I need to succeed in life, I should work hard like Dad. Why then are you keen on giving me the easier options of engineering or medicine which have a sure shot career? Why can’t I choose something different and work hard to succeed in it?

I have never compared both of you to anyone else in the world. I have always believed that you are unique and I am proud of you. But why do you compare me with other kids most of the time? If other kids chose engineering, why do you insist that I choose the same? Please understand that I am unique with capabilities far different from anyone else. Try to understand that and help me grow with them rather than stifling them and making me a clone of your friend’s son!

Dad, I am aware that you wanted to be a doctor but could not make it to a medical school. But imposing your ambitions on me is not fair. It is a question of my life and I do not want to risk choosing something that does not interest me. You have taught me that to be best in something, I have to like it, love it and enjoy it! I am sure that I will not enjoy being a doctor! I agree that choosing medicine will give me a successful career. I am also aware that not choosing medicine will not result in a failed career. I have an example in you Dad!

It is not a question of engineering or medicine for me! It is a question of a cause or career! Most people do not understand the difference between a cause and a career. If Bill Gates had chosen a career in computers, he would have been working with IBM or Apple. If Richard Branson had taken to a career in engineering, he would have been an average middle class British citizen. These people committed themselves to a cause. Bill Gates wanted to make the Personal Computer truly personal. Richard Branson wanted to make flying across the Atlantic far cheaper than anything available. I can give you many more such examples. These people were successful because they committed themselves to a cause. I would like to do the same. Will you listen to me?

If you still feel that I must commit myself to a career, I will! I may not be happy about your choice but I will live with it. I may become materialistic but I will have a great career. You may feel proud that your son is a doctor or an engineer; I will be ashamed for sacrificing my interest! You will be happy that I am successful; I will regret that I lost my cause and happiness! Most importantly, you would have cloned your son to lead a life like your friend’s son; I would have lost my individuality! I am asking you one last time… Will you let me be myself?

Whatever your choice may be, I love both of you a lot!

Your loving son!
(Written on behalf of all those who wish to choose the untrodden path.)