When I was in fourth grade, we were asked to write about an essay titled "Myself". Our class teacher, sister Mercy gave us some tips on how to approach the subject on hand. It was amusing how all of us followed her instructions to the last tee and just now, while writing this, I had realized how alike we all sounded. Anyway, the grand finale of divulging all about myself was what I wanted to become when I grow up. In simpler words, we were asked to write about our ambition. I don't very well recollect what every one else aspired to be, but I wanted to "Go to Space" - It was probably the influence of a certain astronaut of Indian origin that made me think so - but I most certainly wanted to "Go to Space" LOL. Then, a few years down the line, I was asked to write exclusively about my ambition in a second language class. I came up with the punchline ending first, before I really thought what I wanted to become when I grow up - I was probably a writer already, but I said I wanted to be a Lawyer - just because I had this cheesy line ending all the blabber - " ....and I'll prove that Justice is not something that could be bought!" (Grin) So anyway, I was on the road to manipulate my ambition for getting an applause or a few extra marks that would make me the class topper. Or, may be - just may be, I did not really know what to become. On another occasion, I said I wanted to be a mathematician when my math teacher asked the billion dollar question. I didn't know why I said it, since I could not make peace with numbers and equations if you'd threaten me of third degree torture. Then for the best part of my middle and high school, I wanted to be a surgeon. My best pal got so influenced by me that she wanted to be a surgeon too.
Reflecting back, I realize that I never really wanted to be what I am now. It was just destiny or lack thereof that I feel so awfully comfortable and content in my 'homemaker' cloak of invisibility form planet ambition. There is one thing that I consistently did all these years - write and then think and then some write - so, though I want to be a hundred things from a photographer to a chef, I have this one passion that followed me from my childhood and that is what I am doing as we speak. While my peers make hefty pay packages and join themselves in the 'power couple' club, I, for the love of God, sit at my dining table and write - a job that doesn't pay me a single shilling - but gives me this immense satisfaction, and the more I think about people who work in the jobs they don't enjoy to make the money they don't need - the more I feel proud of my choice of doing what I love. I feel that having the opportunity to do what you want is a luxury. Like some one said, if your passion becomes your job and you get paid for it, you are God's own child. So what is all this mad rush about making to world class universities or employers? What is the pursuit? How many of us really do what we like without bothering about what we get paid for it? Some of us do for sure - that explains the fire fighters and preschool teachers because both are among those over worked, underpaid, "labor of love" jobs. But how many of the parents applaud a kid if he/she says she'd want to be a preschool teacher or a fire fighter?
I recently asked a couple of high school kids in my social circle as to what they'd want to be. They both wanted to be Doctors. Why highschoolers? The KG kid I know, who doesn't yet know what being a Doc is except for wearing a fancy white coat and looking down childrens' nostrils and throats also wants to be a - you guessed it right - Doctor! With the highschoolers, I'd asked - "So none of you wants to a lawyer?" and the dad of one of the kids replied - "Yeah, Lawyers! - they get paid exorbitant amounts" - I smiled and nodded my head in two three four directions and inwardly pitying the kids who'd probably choose pay over a pay off. That probably explains why every body and their neighbor's family tree wants to be in the well paying Engineering and Medical fields. I am yet to meet a kid who wants to be a teacher or a Librarian.
The other day Aarti came to me and announced that she wants to be an artist. I said "you can be what ever you want to be" - and I meant every word of it. Research shows that people with the least salaries are the happiest. So happiness is not directly proportional to the pay check. It is one thing to be a doc and enjoy doing what you do and another thing to be a doc for the fiscal benefit it offers. They say the state of AP, India, has more Engineering colleges than students who could fill them - so technically, all you need to get an engineering degree is sources who could fund you. How many of these people really like what they are pursuing? or know what they are pursuing for that matter? This trend probably explains all the frustrated, unemployed, mediocre professionals we have in our country. Why is it that no one wants to be an archaeologist, or a curator - or may be a stock broker? May be, they are being guided by guardians who, like primary school kids, manipulate their ambitions to impress with a punch line business card or a hefty bank balance. Everyone in this word from life giving doctors to grave digging undertakers pursue one thing in life - Happiness, contentment or security - and the only way to get to it is really, wholeheartedly, thoroughly enjoy what they do to fill their stomachs.
I am happy doing what I do - whether I get paid in currency or not - and I am blessed to realize that what I do makes me happy!