Article Written By: Anubhav Khanna
What does this question mean to someone who has just touched 30 and is unmarried,has seen a lot of professional and personal failures and is not particularly ‘good -looking’? A lot actually and thinking about it can be quite frustrating. It can mean that he would like to shed his ‘middle class’ inhibitions and fears that were instilled in him right from the start. This meant that he was always focused on mugging for his weekly unit tests,board exams,entrance exams ….the list never ended for a middle class boy growing up in the 90s. There was a constant fear that was instilled in a boy back then that if he did not end up a winner in that mad race for grades,entrance exams—his life would basically get screwed. This mad race is continuing even now,but the difference is that the career options have increased and parents are willing to try out those career options. But back then, there were only two-doctor or engineer. Somebody pursuing commerce was a source of shame for the family and that poor arts student was considered too inferior to belong to human race.
There was one other falsehood that was propagated—that if we studied hard enough to crack the entrance exams, our whole life would be like a bed of roses. And how the IT companies that were springing up in the late 90s and early 2000s are basically waiting to give you a job in US and how your life would be like heaven. This would compensate for all the lost years of childhood spent on mugging, going to tuition and not developing an all round personality. Obviously by this I mean that all those theater and drama classes and other means of knowing the real world were considered a waste of time. I still remember when the cable television came to my small town in the mid 90s and how I was deprived off it. I wish I would never have given up on my badminton sessions,would have worked on my cricketing skills, continued those guitar classes and not worried about how my study time was getting ‘wasted’ because of all this. But all these myths get busted by the time you reach your adult life…basically the late 20s. All this planning,fear of not succeeding in your academic life basically ill prepares you to deal with your adult life which relies more on real life skills,ability to face competition then on endless planning and fear of failure. Then you see your peers who did ‘useless’ courses like hotel management,enjoyed their school and college life,learned the real life skills through myriad social interactions and are doing much better then you in life. In real life,emotional quotient decides your success not the intelligence quotient. IQ helps but only to a point.Your blood boils and you think…what if I could relive my childhood…would I do things differently. In fact deep within my parents also realize this.
One more thing if I could change or rather more then me, my parents would want to change about my family will be to just make it a happier one. One where everybody could talk to everybody else about their problems and ask for solutions. One where my parents would not have fought with each other over petty issues. And I hope I would have played a more active role to resolve these issues in my childhood. But I guess we middle class children never had a say in these matters. My whole life I had my dinner/lunch along with my father watching news about politics and my mother serving it. We never had a concept of family sitting together on dining table and eating together. Believe me,these scars remain with you forever. Families shown in Sooraj Barjatiyas movies were an alien concept to us. The one in Kapoor and Sons seems to be much closer in hindsight.
Another thing I could have done differently is I wish I would have taken more risks and listened more closely to my heart and this includes selecting my friends myself and not listening to my parents advise of who should I make friendship with depending upon how good is one at studies and how I would get spoiled if I spend time with children who did not have good academic credentials. Never mind if those with good grades were the meanest ones. I wish I had not cared what my parents or for that matter anybody else thought about my decisions or how much distress it would cause them because frankly speaking,if you are unhappy, you cannot keep others happy howsoever hard you try. Making your own decisions is important because there is no greater sense of frustration then being a failure for some decisions going wrong in life which someone else has taken on your behalf. You may fail by in life by taking your own decisions, but those decisions will still be yours. There would not be that persistent feeling that things would have been different had you taken control of your own life.
It would also have been good had I given importance to my looks,had gone out with girls,had not fretted over everything that I did and hence lost my hair due to too much stress. My parents always kept telling me when I start loosing my hair that physical appearances do not matter and if I get my career right,these bad looks of mine that I developed over time would get papered over. These things would hurt all the more because I was a very handsome man in my teens. But these constant pressures/stresses of being somebody else took its toll over the years. I regret turning down many a hints from girls during my school days when I was still very handsome. This thing had somehow been ingrained in me that every second of my life should be devoted to preparing for the entrance exams. Hence I was too busy mugging the chemistry and physics books and forgot that studying the female anatomy is also important and part of one’s youth and is normal. Anyways,even at the cost of repeating myself, whatever extra hours I devoted to my study haven’t reaped any extra dividends for me. And all you folks do not get fooled by declarations on tinder by these girls that they are sapiosexual. In the end ,looks do matter and do not get into a situation wherein you would have to go in for a hair transplant later.So fuck those study/career related stresses and live life on your own terms. Be a Befikra!
I wish I could have been a little more carefree and selfish also. Like my friends at college who would not go home for days altogether and enjoy their hostel life and I would go home on every weekend. But when you have parents who do not talk to each other much and only have their children to talk to, that scenario becomes a little difficult. The guilt does not allow you to be that selfish.
But alas that time is gone. And I cannot bring it back.But I think if I were to take any positive results from these regrets and experiences, it would be twofold. First I am still 30 and have a long life to go. I have become much stronger and ready to face any challenge in life. All my inhibitions and fears are gone. Whatever were my worst nightmares have already become true. Secondly,having lost my own sense of insecurities, I will not pass on these to my children. I will let them pursue their own dreams.
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