Only Engineer or Doctor. Otherwise, fish monger.

This is not a generalization; this is the truth. Some might say that there is a slight shift in this paradigm, but the fact still remains. Our parents still prefer we become something science-y, but this is limited to the two professions they say are undoubtedly the best – Engineering and Medicine.

Now, I have nothing against engineers and doctors. I have three brothers, two of whom are engineers and one who is a studying to be a doctor. And I’m immensely proud of them. The time, effort and energy they spend on being good at what they do, is applause-worthy and for this and several other reasons (the primary one being that we share the same blood), I love them.

However, this is my Pandora’s Box. That they stuck on to this path while I took a detour. Remember childhood? That magical time when we wanted to be anything from a barber and a cab-driver to an astronaut and a cryptologist? Even though we had no idea what that last two meant, we still wanted to be. This is because we were children and were allowed to have such dreams, most of which were dismissed by our elders as childish. I, for one, wanted to be an air-hostess, a teacher, a chef, a super-hero, a synchronized swimmer and an architect who designs only palaces. So cool no? But one of my dream professions was to be a doctor!

When I proudly declared this to my peeps (in this case, my parents, aunties, uncles and grandparents), they grinned with delight. They had already begun visualizing my future-clinic, its name, me in a white coat with a permanent stethoscope around my neck, my earnings and also, my prospective groom! I mean, come on! I was probably six, and was hell-bent on marrying Captain Planet. How could they have taken me seriously? (Captain Planet is STILL the hero, but pollution is not yet zero)

Anyhoo, as I grew up, I realized that I loved Biology. It was a fun and interesting subject. Also, I always had an inclination towards serving people. These, again, were taken as sure-shot signs that there would be a doctor in the family, in the near future. Wah, life is set! Before I knew it, I took up a science course for my +2 education. And guess what? I hated it.

Every day was torture; every book was ugly. Yes, I loved biology, and I still do. But I realized that this love was limited to knowing more about the subject in general. I did not want to learn it, and I sure as hell did not want to base my future upon it. So, as expected, I did pathetically in my final exams, barely managing to pass in Mathematics (yuck). Despite all this, my folks insisted I sit for CET! With dread and indifference, I wrote only three out of four papers, conveniently skipping Math to take a well-deserved afternoon nap.

Marks and ranks were declared; household was in gloom. The scene was that of a family who had just lost everything in the world. In my mind though, there was a party! So my next step was to apply to a degree college, which would result in some of the best years of my life.

When relatives got wind of my ‘performance’, the typical dialogue-giri ensued. “What will she do now?” “How will she survive without engineering?” “She was supposed to be a doctor no? You’ll are giving her too much freedom.” “Look at Mr. X’s son! He’s an engineer and is earning so well”.“Aiyoo, kale zaalen putha; kithyak ashen karthai”? (Konkani-speaking family, yo!) Annoyed with all this and the constant brain-washing that my poor parents had to endure, I told my relatives, in the nicest way possible, to shove it. *Cue Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life*

Now that I was doing something that I liked, I put my heart and soul into it. I made amazing friends, had the best study-family-fun balance, did well in all subjects and, most importantly, was happy. However, this was not enough. Since my brothers were pursuing their science dreams, I became the black sheep by default. I mean, heck! Who in the right mind takes commerce courses today, no?

Despite the snide comments, the emotionally-blackmailing conversations with my Mum (she still wants me to be a doctor! Go figure.), and the constant comparisons to my science-y siblings, I loved what I pursued, and am currently pursuing this. To hell with stereotypes, man! This is my life and I will live it the way I want to, right? Meh, I wish it were that simple.

You see, boys and girls, we can’t blame our parents or relatives for all this. We have only ourselves to blame. We keep mum; we are afraid of voicing our opinions; we try to blend in, knowing well enough that we are meant to stand out. We need to shine in the way we ought to, by doing what we love. So what if we dislike engineering? I hated it. But hating isn’t enough. We need to positively channel our dislike in a way that benefits us. As Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Let us not be cowards. We can pop wheelies in front of ten girls but we can’t talk to our parents? Shame Shame. Let’s be what we wanted to be when we were children; what we are meant to be – dancers, musicians, chefs, stylists, designers, writers, astronauts, stand-up comedians, doctors, nurses, Sachin Tendulkar, carpenters, engineers, entrepreneurs, Batman, researchers, historians, Captain Planet lovers.

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