Sunday, April 12, 2015

Day 5 - E for Exams - E for Evolve

As a child I took exams very seriously. The most serious of those that came my way were the class X board exams. I was raised in the most typical of Indian middle class settings though I was exempt from being put through the pressure of doing good in examinations or the pain of being compared to the neighbor or cousin that scored more than me in Trigonometry. As a result I was exempt form the anxiety to be on top, or so I thought ...until I brought it onto myself. Don't they say it takes a village to raise a child? So the proverbial village made me realize early on, that my self worth and my appraisal in the world would be wholly and solely dependent on one thing - my mark sheet and my position in the class room, based on that mark sheet.

I looked around and realized the heroes were the ones that got top ranks, attended the best schools and had degrees that graced before and after their names as ostentatious adornments. What if someone made it through the Engineering and Medical entrance?  Please make way and worship the path that they walked on. What if they made it to the Indian Institute of Technology? - Give them the Noble prize, put their picture on your altar and pray that your kid (or you) would be fortunate enough to follow them. In short, our worth depended on our academic merit and all we needed to set our lives and cement our self worth was to rake in as many marks as we could in the examinations that determined our value as people for the rest of our lives. 

Thus I toiled. Buried myself deep into the books and dreamed day and night to get the top mark in the school - how couldn't I? Wasn't that my purpose in life? - I did all I could, never watched TV and worked more that I played like the Jack that was a dull boy! I topped my board exams, basked in the inflated ego that followed when all and sundry praised me to high heavens and thought I got it all figured out - this life and the way to live it! Up until I didn't.

My now self, on retrospect would love to tell my then fourteen year old self a thing or two about life, living and scoring top grade in exams. It was for the fortunate evolution process my heart and soul went through. I look back and let out an empty smile - how over rated that whole circus was? How naive it is to make our lives revolve around out doing, out shining and constantly comparing ourselves to others to  validate our own achievements. 

Life is about wisdom and not knowledge, about compassion and not intelligence about living it our way and not outdoing the people around us.

I am all for achievement, ambition, accumulation of degrees, making it into gifted and talented lists, attending ivy league schools and earning big pay checks. I just hope that someone tells my generation of parents and this generation of kids that happiness, worthiness and contentment in life comes independent of all these things. That a person could have the most elaborate degree but could be an emotional idiot, an arrogant individual and our self worth is definitely not determined by our accomplishments.

Let's stop and smell the roses, take it easy - cause every little child in the world doesn't need to become a neurosurgeon, a space scientist or the president of USA - it is very important, however, to be comfortable in our own skin and be compassionate and reasonable human beings. The chances of kids succeeding and giving their best, probably works out better when they are given the right instructions to life and living.

Don't force achievements - they are utterly overrated!