2012 had started off on a very heavy note! I was all of 16 and the fact that I had decided to opt out of a coaching centre that was milking money, time, energy and my dreams out of my system. The pressure of having opted out of that coaching centre (say X), didn’t really go down very well with my parents. My parents were desperately trying to get me back to the centre- calling our neighbours, my seniors, to a psychologist friend, every possibility was tried and tested. Even today the thought of having been in that space, I’m not even exaggerating as I say this, my heart felt so heavy, I felt nauseous and ill, almost as if someone was killing me, and I was trying so hard to run away from that space, and the society simply wouldn’t. I some how managed to put my foot down by October that year, and said those dreadful words, “I”M DONE!” I felt like a quitter, everybody was looking down upon me, and I mean it when I say it, EVERYBODY! I didn’t like what was being taught inside that dreadful little room. None of it made sense, I didn’t want to sit for Engineering. But, what else could I have done? I was perfectly made to believe that Fashion is definitely NOT an option, what could I make out of sketching and drawing all day? So, I through all my designs down the dustbin. They were all termed as distractions. I remember walking into that space again after a month, I felt like a loser, and just to remind you, I hadn’t dropped out of school. I was in fact, doing very well at school (I eventually scored a 95% in my 12th boards, a 475 out of 500). I simply wanted some time to think through what I wanted to be, an option that was never given to me, and rather discouraged from thinking. This was also the time I was struggling majorly with accepting my sexuality. On one hand, I was made to feel miserable for being effeminate, I was beginning to decipher my feeling for boys, and then there was the pressure to be the perfect son straight out of an IIT, and then of course an IIM! I don’t have a problem with Engineering, I do however, have a major issue with this system, the system that kills the dreams, and the kid with it, before the kid even grows a mind of his/her own. You know why we have so many millenials switching careers like T-shirts? Because so many of them are clueless AF, clueless kids who are tailor made to go through the drill to fit society’s definition of a perfect kid.
I remember being so happy when the results for 12th board exams came out, I knew I didn’t want to sit for an Engineering exam. However, I was also made to feel guilty for not wanting to study for an exam I didn’t want to sit for. I did. I ended up in IIIT, Delhi 3 months later, and IIIT is honestly an incredible place to be. But, here’s the deal. When you either take up decisions in life for yourself by yourself, or are made to take up other people’s dreams that are not yours, it not only affects you, it affects more so the people around you. And, THAT is a bigger problem. If I don’t enjoy making an Arduino work, why should the kid working with me on that project with a dream to become an Engineer have to suffer? If I don’t enjoy reading a book about Metal Oxide Semiconductors, and my teacher is putting all the effort in the World to teach us for a class, why should he/she have to feel disappointed on asking me a question? What so many Indian parents and even kids don’t understand is that you’re putting 4 years of your life at stake! And, 4 years is a very, very long time! Miserable is too small a word, I could feel my heart aching in that class when I couldn’t answer a question. It hurt because I had never been this, I was always a very well prepared kid at school, I knew the answers, and here I was doing a professional course. And, professional courses are different, one is required to invest a lot of time and energy into these subjects. When I wouldn’t understand something at class, I’d feel so stupid, and it wasn’t helping my perception of myself in anyway. I felt under-confident, and scared, and dumb, and these are three words I’d never want to associate myself with, and so shouldn’t you. I’m not scared of taking up challenges, that’s what I’ve done all my life! I came out, and owned my effeminacy when it wasn’t cool to be gay or, effeminate. I signed up for my first job at 19 as a Graphic Designer where I’d spend hours figuring out the smallest details, even the difference between a .png and .jpeg file!
DO NOT invest even a minute of it doing something you do not enjoy, or for that matter kill the spark in you. Life’s going to have its own set of trials and tribulations anyway, why make it more difficult for yourself? Do you want to walk into your future blaming your parents for what they made you do? Or, do you want to take it upon yourself and be more decisive about what you want to do, and where you want to be? Not everything you want to be in your life is going to be easy either. You will have to keep learning all your life. So next time you sit for an MBA, ask yourself what is this course all about? Does this subject excite me? Is this what I want to be in life?
Today I am grateful for the decisions I made in life, because even in that moment of living between so many odds, I always looked for a way to overcome them. I wouldn’t have been Mr. Gay India had I not been at IIIT, I wouldn’t have been introduced to a world of possibilities via Technology had it not been for IIIT, but I know for a fact I didn’t have to be in a lot of situations that I had to put myself through simply because someone else wished for that degree more than I did. That said, I still am very, very grateful for this life that I have to myself, the lessons I’ve been able to learn on the way, for the people I met, and for the person I am today!
Love, and Light,