Thursday, November 6, 2014

Follow Your Passion

I decided to take a gap year from my college education in 2013. I started thinking about the various projects I wanted to work on in this period. How I would continue my education in this period? I decided to google some ideas and here are some insights. 

The Human Baby and the Baby Giraffe
 The birth of a baby giraffe is an interesting event to observe. A baby giraffe is thrown on the ground from its mother’s womb. Now you would expect a mother to caress the giraffe, but then the mother giraffe starts kicking the baby giraffe pushing it to start walking quickly. If the baby giraffe does not learn to stand on its own feet immediately, the bigger animals in the wild will eat it.

Now you compare this scenario to what happens during the birth of a human baby. The baby spends the first four or five years just exploring the world around it. Then kinder garden starts followed by primary, secondary and higher secondary school. This takes about 18 years on an average in most countries. 

For some reason this human baby is put into a situation where you are encouraged to do exactly what everyone else is doing. The baby comes into the world with no judgments and for the first four or five years of its life, experiences life moment to moment.

The Start of Socialization and Education

Then a young student starts schooling and then because of the pressure of the system around him, the student will start putting less value on his or her own unique individuality and personal development. There are exceptions of institutions promoting individual creativity. But these are very few. 

But the student will find a way to do something they genuinely like doing. Even if it means using the final three-four hours of the day to work on their interest. He will then approach an adult or friend telling them about this particular interest of theirs.

Before even considering the possibilities of this child doing something brilliant in a field he is naturally passionate about, the students are told to not think about these different paths. You must first focus on graduating from high school, getting into a good college, finishing your masters and P.H.D. The you must get a good job, work for twenty – thirty years, get married, get kids. When you are sixty, tired and about to retire you can take up your passion. Then you can do what you want. 

This really troubled me because it was my personal belief that if a person is allowed to do something they are genuinely passionate about, then they tend to put their heart and soul into doing it really well. Failure often does not deter them because they are not doing it for the external rewards; they are doing it because they genuinely enjoy the process of being involved in that particular activity. 

The money and great life is a by-product of the value they create doing the work they love. But for some reason, society was shaped in such a way that you could get away doing something reasonably well, and providing average service so that you end up leading a life that was defined for you by somebody else. 

Happiness. Doing what is appropriate in Society at a particular point of time?

Maybe everyone in your peer group, wanted to become doctors. So you decide to become one as well, even though you do not have the slightest interest in this particular field. You are smart enough to get through the exams at college so you do get through them. Then you get placed at a good company and everything is supposed to be going great. But then you feel empty deep within. This job is not fulfilling. Yes I am getting paid well, my family is being covered, vacation time, housing and transport allowance and more. But this job is just not me.

We are disappointed because growing up we were always told that if we took this path, of doing what was considered necessary and safe, we would be happy. Then why are we unhappy at that stage of our life? 

Because we never bothered to look within and ask ourselves what we really wanted to do? We were so focused on what everybody else was doing that we forgot the most important thing. That we have a story too and it matters to us.

Questions we ask during a Mid-Life Crisis

1.  Why did I never ask myself what I wanted to do?

2.  What if used my free time after school and college to work on my passion?

3.  Why did I not question what I was doing in this system? 

 Now just because everybody else thinks it is the right thing to do, it does not have to be the right thing to do. We are often lost in the comfort of the herd mentality. We are actually putting ourselves into an even more insecure position by assuring ourselves that if we follow the crowd we will be safe and taken care off. 

The problem with this assumption is that we are losing out on a wonderful gift. Our unique individual stories. By confirming to what everyone else is doing around us, we lose out on the chance to design our own lives.

A life that we will look at and say ‘Wow! At least I am doing something I love.' 

Let us learn together
Tweet @AbhishekShetty_

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